Interview Faux Pas

Interview Faux Pas

Interview Faux Pas


As recruitment consultants, we spend a lot of time with candidates prior to the meeting with a client for an interview for several reasons. How a person behaves in a relaxed environment, and how they behave under pressure are two totally different beasts.  We like to focus on a few key areas, including strengths and weaknesses, competency questions and striking the all-important balance. Below are some suggestions and ideas to ensure your next interview goes without a hitch!

Fail to prepare…

“If I had 8 hours to cut down a tree, I’d spend the first 6 sharpening my ax”- Abraham Lincoln

Your interview starts the moment it has been scheduled. Whether you have a week or a day to prepare, you should be utilizing every moment to get yourself ready. If you are being interviewed, the company can see “on paper” what you are capable of, but all too often we see candidates thinking that because they’ve got the interview, the rest is in the bag.

Do: Ensure you have researched the background of the company, the ethos, what they are striving to do and why. Prepare for all eventualities including competency questions using well thought out examples of your experience and have thought through some of the trickier minefields that can lead to underselling yourself, such as why you are moving on from your current role.

Don’t: Bad mouth your current employer, lead the conversation with financially driven reasons or go into the interview with a sense of entitlement that because you have the skills, you have it in the bag!

Paint yourself into their picture

“Sell the problem that you solve, not the product”

It is very easy to get caught up in the spiral of your experience, but don’t forget what you are there to do. Once you are in the interview, one of the main aims is to paint a picture of you doing this role to the hiring manager.

Do: When you talk about you’re experience and skills, you should be able to tie it in with the requirements of the role you are interviewing for. Promote your ability to use your skill set to bring that business forward, and through the research, you have done prior, why and how you can have a positive impact on that company.

Don’t: Overuse the word “I” when talking about your experience. Your roles both past and present regardless will have involved collaborating at some point with other team members. Try using the word “we” occasionally when discussing group projects, outcomes and results. Also, try and stay on course and avoid trailing off or you could end up losing track of the question you’ve been asked!

Strengths and Weaknesses

“Being self-aware is not the absence of mistakes, but the ability to learn and correct them.”

— Daniel Chidiac


Ah, this old chestnut. Let’s be honest, so many people get rumbled on this question, and unnecessarily so. Remember this is less about what you’re good or bad at, and more about how self-aware you are, what steps you are putting in place to improve yourself, and how you are using your strengths to develop further.

Do: Talk to former colleagues, lecturers, or anyone who will give you open and constructive answers to areas that maybe you could work on. The most important part of this is framing your answer. A good example of framing a weakness and showing self-awareness would be

“In the past, I’ve found it difficult to speak in front of large groups as I would let my nerves get to me. Since then, I have put goals in place to speak in front of smaller groups to build my confidence and have worked together with my manager to get constructive feedback on my delivery. I have found that by making small but consistent improvements, it has built my confidence and I now feel I am working towards being able to speak in front of larger groups confidently and effectively.”


Don’t: One big mistake often made by people at interviewing, is trying to mask a strength behind a weakness e.g.; “I’m a perfectionist”. Avoid this, if possible at all costs. The interviewer knows what you’re doing, and you are only sabotaging your chances. Worse again, is saying you don’t have any weaknesses. Nobody is perfect, but we can all learn to be better.

The importance of striking a balance

“Professional is not a label you give to yourself, it is a description you hope others will apply to you”- David Maister

In today’s day and age, “culture” and “personality fit” are huge players in the deciding factor of candidates obtaining the role. We are seeing more and more casual practices being implanted into the hiring process for many reasons, including attracting hard to find talent and getting a feel for the candidate on a more personal level. This can be a slippery slope and it is very easy to fall into the trap of allowing yourself to become too informal at an interview.

Do: Adopt a “Meeting the Parents” mentality. If you’re being interviewed at a company that is vibrant and has an emphasis on a slightly more relaxed culture, you want certain aspects of your personality to shine through and rightly so. Imagine yourself “Meeting the parents” for the first time- you want to make the best impression possible, but you also want to be authentic and show your personality. If you can imagine yourself in this situation, it should help you keep the balance in your mind!

Don’t: When your guard is down, your level of professionalism can slip and this is always something to be aware of. Remember, you are still in an interview, you are still being judged on your ability to do a job so you still need to be aware of how you are coming across in a professional capacity. There is a lot to be said for striking that perfect balance between the authenticity of your character and professional decorum. If you find yourself Relaxing a little too much, and recalling wild tales of your weekend, you’re no longer on the right side of the scales!


At Oliver Mall we believe in investing time and energy into consulting our candidates and clients to ensure both sides are putting their best foot forward both in their careers and obtaining the best talent. To discuss the next step in your professional career, or to hear about how we can help you build your business contact our team at or call us on 0214551940.

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