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My employer has had a recruiting drive over the last few months. Having been interviewer maybe 30 times throughout my career I thought I’d document some of the recurring mistakes candidates make. None of these points are ground breaking, just common sense – yet many candidates still make them!

Arrive early (or at the very least on time)
A handful of candidates that I’ve interviewed have been late. One candidate turned up 45 mins late without notice and expected to be interviewed. Lateness is not professional and shows lack of enthusiasm. Sometimes it’s out of your control. Be prepared, make sure you have the recruiter’s or the company’s number in your phone.

Answer the question
Particularly for early questions, when you’re most nervous, listen to what the interviewer is asking you. Don’t be afraid to ask for further information or to repeat the question so you can provide an appropriate answer. Far too many candidates don’t address the question asked and instead answer something else. I can only assume nerves get the better of them.

Research the role
Read the job description thoroughly, pick out the technologies required or acronyms you haven’t seen before and Google them! This will pay dividends, it shows the interviewer you are informed. Check the company’s recent press releases and know their major clients, products or services. If you can’t answer the questions “what attracted you to the role?” or “why do you want to work here?” you’re not sufficiently prepared.

Assume your interviewer is technical
Admit when you have no idea how to tackle the question. The interviewer can move on to the next question. I’ve sat in interviews where the candidate responded with ridiculous answers, rather than admit they hadn’t worked with a particular technology. If you’re going to bullshit during your interview, I’m not inclined to hire you. Assume the person interviewing you is technical and not someone you can fob off with technical mumbo-jumbo.

Think of questions in advance
You have a lot to contend with at interview. Firstly, getting there. Meeting new people in an unfamiliar environment and taming those nerves. Many obvious questions that pop into your head as you read this will never occur to you during the pressure of an interview.

Take time beforehand to list out questions, however simple. What training is provided? How big is the team? Opportunities for career progression? Do I have to use Windows or can I run Linux? Package details like core hours, holiday entitlement and salary you want to leave to the last stage interview.

Don’t be afraid to take notes
For the reason cited above (brain = swiss cheese), you’re not going to remember all the details. The interviewer won’t mind if you jot down facts and figures. This can show professionalism, like noting down action points during meetings.

Expect a technical test
Would you hire a magician without getting them to perform a few tricks?

If you can’t attend, provide at least 24hrs notice
The interviewer has to work their day around you, if you’re not going to attend, give them sufficient notice to re-organise their schedule.

If you really want to role, it can’t hurt to send a thank you email. Good luck!


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