You just can’t say it too many times: a first-class degree and qualifications are wonderful. They open doors and they create a general perception of competence and intelligence. They lay the foundations and they set the scene. Now, all you have to do is live up to the hype.
Specifically, this does not necessarily mean convincing said recruiter that you’re the next Alexander Fleming or Steve Jobs in the making - or indeed that you’re incapable of error. What it does mean, however, is that it is your job and your duty to do your homework beforehand: to address some of the most common mistakes that candidates do make in an interview environment and to do everything in your power to make sure you don’t fail in the same way.
Fortunately, PharmiWeb.com recently conducted a short survey amongst some of the nation’s top healthcare recruiters, asking them a series of simple questions centred around the worst examples of ‘Interview Mistakes’. The results are telling.
• Not Knowing About The Company
It really should go without saying. Before you attend any interview, it is absolutely essential that you do some research into the company itself. As well as knowing a few basic facts such as year of foundation, key people, field/s of operation, revenue and products, you should use your time wisely to acquire as much background knowledge as you possibly can. Sure, no one is expecting you to know the ins and outs of the company on day one. But what they will be looking for is a sense of assurance that they are hiring a candidate who is both interested and engaged in the company’s affairs and capable of preparation and initiative. Fail to do so and you could end up being categorised with some of the less fortunate candidates below:
“…the interviewer asks at the start- so tell me what do you know about xxxx; the candidate can’t answer so completely blows their chances”
“it became clear that the candidate has turned up for the interview thinking we are different company”
“…candidate having told us why they really wanted to work for company "x" (not us!)”
“…turning up to an interview with no / little understanding of what the company does. This gives a really bad impression…”
• Not Knowing About the Job
Cardinal sin number two: not having a clue about the role or position for which you are applying. Seems obvious, right? Yet while it may not surprise the average candidate to know that a little advance knowledge of the vacancy is beneficial, for some it appears less patent.
“…has no idea what the job is ( other than its a sales job) - but when questioned about it - didn't think it was worth checking with the agency”
“Applying for a job that requires travel and then tell the interviewer that you don't like to travel much…”
• What Not to Wear
What you wear and how you present yourself in an interview can tell a recruiter a lot about your sense of professionalism, as well as influence their wider perception of you as a candidate. Turn up to the interview in a fully-tailored lounge suit and the recruiter is likely to show you the respect that you’ve already shown to yourself. Turn up in jeans and a t-shirt and any skills or talents that you do possess are likely to be overshadowed by the laziness with which you have presented your candidacy.
“I had someone go for an interview for a job wearing an open-neck shirt and a rather large cannabis-leaf pendant around his neck”.
“…black suit and white trainers.”
“Coming to an interview dressed in casual wear e.g. jeans and TShirt.”
“… a lady arrived in a low top and short skirt. The interview seats were designed in a way that unfortunately did not leave much to the imagination…. really struggled to get out of the seat in a dignified way, which was embarrassing for both her and others in the room”
“… it looked as if he was dressed up as Worzel Gummidge / Mr T. This is not a good look. - It was a shame because on paper he was perfect for the job”… "It was also very distracting for me to interview him because I could not keep my eyes off the caterpillar which was crawling in his hair”
• Communication and Body Language
How you handle yourself in an interview environment can tell the recruiter a lot about how you react to pressure, as well as your general social skills and ability to communicate your ideas and competencies. Assuredness is a good thing, but don’t take it too far. While recruiters absolutely do crave a general sense of self-assuredness in a candidate, cockiness is a step too far…
“poor communication skills and body language and not answering questions fully… or over talking that is irrelevant to the question being asked.”
“bad body language: sit up straight, make eye contact, look alert and interested.”
Don’t be over confident or “cocky”, but tell them how good you are otherwise they won’t know!
Don’t use the interview to vent your frustrations on the industry, you last boss etc
Don’t keep referring to your CV during the interview – it looks like you can’t remember what you made up!
“…crossed arms, laid back in the chair, twitching of legs, tapping the table or playing with a pen”