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Career Advice

5 ways to make a bad impression in an interview

A couple of months ago we highlighted some ways to make a good first impression in an interview. However if making a good first impression is an option then making a bad one is equally possible. Here we highlight 5 key ways that a bad first impression can be made in an interview.

Say you are better than the job

Humility is a really important quality in an employee. Of course you must be confident, but a misplaced or overzealous confidence will come across as arrogance. It’s actually a rather tricky balance for some people to get right, as they try hard to present an air of self-assuredness, but end up overshooting and offending the sensibilities of the interviewers.

Employers rarely want to employ someone who is already an expert in every aspect of a role, because the chances are such a person will quickly lose interest in the work. Therefore you should be sure to demonstrate your skills in certain areas as well as weaknesses in others.  Just make sure than any weaknesses you admit to, do not form a key aspect of the job, as this could exclude you from the rest of the recruitment process.

Say it’s only a short term filler for you

Ok, we understand that the job you are interviewing for might not be the gateway to the career of your dreams; you know it, we know it, and chances are the interviewer knows it too. It is not Angry Womandishonest to overstate your enthusiasm for a role, in fact it is pretty much expected.

Such a bluff is a mainstay of the recruitment and HR world, very few people are actually ‘passionate’ about their job, but we guarantee that 90% have claimed to be in an interview.  Very few employers will want to see a short term member of staff in a ‘permanent’ position, so be sure to keep your aspirations under wrap.

Complaining about Journey Time

Not that it’s especially rude or surprising, but it’s one of those things that interviewers hear time and time again and as a result have developed a low level of tolerance for.  If you have ever worked in HR or recruitment you will know that assessing someone’s ability to commute to and from the place of work on a daily basis is a crucial aspect of the process.  An employer is unlikely to give a job to someone unless they are confident that the journey to work can be made without major effort on the part of the employee.  Making comments about how difficult / stressful your journey to the interview was, will plant the seed of doubt into the mind of the employer, and who knows what size of a mighty oak that could grow into.

Not listening

We won’t labour too long over this point, since if you do not yet know the importance of being a good listener, you probably shouldn’t be looking for a job in the first place. What we will say is that there is a significant difference between effective listening and ineffective listening.  

An effective listener will internally explore everything that an employer tells them and formulate answers to questions based on what they think an employer is asking them. An ineffective listener will simply extract what meaning they want from a statement or question, and manipulate it in a way that allows them to say what they want.

Some people perform this kind of passive listening almost instinctively, and it can be a rather difficult habit to break once it has become imbedded in your behaviour.viral6

The only real way that you can help prevent this from making a bad firm impression on a potential employer is to simply take your time to think about each question, and make sure you answer what the interviewer is asking, rather than what you want them to ask.    

The obvious ones

Sadly for you there are dozens of ways to make a bad first impression in an interview.  These need no further discussion or explanation… suffice to say you should do everything you can to avoid them.  

  • Poorly / inappropriately dressed
  • Smelling of cigarette smoke
  • Using foul language
  • Not having completed adequate research
  • Being defensive
  • Not being punctual
  • Complaining about your current / previous employer




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