I often get asked what to do in interviews, but I think a good place to start is to look at what NOT to do. I’m going to avoid the obvious ones, such as dress appropriately and be on time. These are all clearly important, but I wanted to focus on some of the ‘not so obvious ones’.
I’ve spent nearly every day of my ten year recruitment career interviewing people for various clients and these are the ones that either my clients or I have picked up on....
The receptionist is as important as the MD…
Always be nice to the receptionist or whoever greets you. Don’t be dismissive (even if you’re nervous) and don’t think they won’t carry any influence, because in most cases they do.
I would always send out my PA or one of our administrators to greet the interviewee and offer them a drink. I’d then ask her what her initial thoughts were. If they were rude or impolite, then I’d have a preconceived idea of the candidate before I met them.
Notepad & pens?
Remember this is just my opinion and I know some interviewers don’t mind this (I also know many who agree with me), but I’m not a fan of people who use notepads and pens in interviews; although I do appreciate people who bring them in, along with a CV or other documentation. For example, references or nice emails from happy clients are always nice things to present in interviews.
I just find it distracting when people are making notes whilst I’m trying to have a conversation and build rapport. Some clients of mine have suggested that it shows an inability to retain information. Make your own mind up on this one, but just be aware that it might not appeal to every interviewer.
Don’t apologise for being nervous…
Being nervous is obviously NOT a mistake. I like it when people are a bit nervous, because it shows me they care. In fact, it makes me warm to them even more. I don’t think people should apologise for being nervous, however, because it can change the tone of the interview slightly, make the conversation a little awkward and sometimes make the interviewer feel slightly uncomfortable. Don’t bring any more attention to it than you need to by focusing on it. Just power through!
Don’t ask questions about salaries or holidays...
The time has come for you to ask the interviewer some questions. This is such a common mistake. An employer does not want to think that your main focus at this stage is holidays, salaries or sickness policies.
I have been told of three people asking this in January alone and my clients were not impressed (even though the three candidates were very talented and extremely experienced in their industries).
This is your chance to show your passion and build rapport, so pick your questions carefully. You can cover these subjects further along in the recruitment process, but now is not the time.
Always remember the one mile rule…
I call this the ‘one mile rule’ because I have seen so many interviews go brilliantly and then fall apart during the polite chat on the way back to reception. I could write an entire article about this subject alone, full of examples (some a bit crazy!), but for the sake of word count I’ll just say that the interview is not over until you’re out of eye/ear shot of any of the company’s employees.
I once interviewed a lady who was awesome, a real team player and I was so excited about her passion for strategic planning and team work...it was a done deal in my head. Then, on the way to reception, just before I said goodbye, she told me she had a “boring strategy meeting to go to” and rolled her eyes. What? Game over!
Written by Aimee Bateman
Recruitment Expert & Owner of Bateman Associates
Before setting up her own recruitment and training consultancy, Aimee Bateman worked for some of the largest recruitment companies in the world, (Hays PL and Robert Half International). She has helped thousands of people get their dream jobs and has appeared on BBC 1 and BBC 3 as a 'Recruitment Expert'. Aimee has also created Careercake.com, which is designed to help passionate people kick-start their dream careers.