Written by: Mike Smith | 7 Aug 2022

What are the top 5 common interview mistakes for a new career starter?

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Everyone’s been there. You’ve just finished up your education and you’re starting to think about your future career. You sit down at your computer and create what you can only describe as the best CV to grace the planet – something Shakespeare himself would be proud of. You email it over to job after job, until one day, the phone rings. It’s a hiring manager. They want to meet you. No worries – I’ve prepared for this moment my whole life. What could go wrong?

It’s the big day. You arrive, and graciously accept the coffee they’ve offered you. Out of the way with the niceties, and they start with some tame questions. Then BAM “what would you describe as your biggest weaknesses”? In that instant, time slows down. The world turns grey. You panic. You blurt out a half-baked answer that might somewhat make sense, right?

Like I say, everyone’s been there. If you have or have ever had a job, you’ve also had your first interview. And not all first interviews are born equal.

Today we’re taking a look at the top 5 interviewing mistakes made by new career starters, looking to get onto the first rung of their career ladder.

  • Not practicing common interview questions

Literally one Google search is all it takes. You’ll see hundreds of common interview questions and all you have to do is get comfortable with the sorts of things you might be asked. Most interviewers are not really that interested in what you say, it’s more about the thought process behind it. Take poor little Timmy above. There are certainly answers to avoid – such as being late 70% of the time, or an inability to ever meet a deadline – but past that, it doesn’t matter to an extent. What matters is the follow up, where you explain how you are actively trying to improve on your weakness.

  • Not dressing the part

Come on. This one is really obvious, but I’ve seen this error a hundred times before. Just ask the question. While taking the time to book and arrange your interview, ask the question. Find out if they are a traditionally smart organisation, a quirky smart-casual set up, or a beanbag ridden hippy hangout. Use this to make your own assessment. One rule of thumb I used was to always make sure I was one level of smartness above them. Interviewing at a shorts wearing hippy hangout? No problem, I’ll wear smart-casual.

  • Chewing gum

I’m not even going to elaborate. If you accidentally forget to take it out before the interview starts, swallow it and accept it being in your stomach for 7 years – yes, I know it’s a myth.

  • Being unprepared

Ah, the 5 P’s. Prior planning prevents poor performance. You can add another P in if you want. This one is vital and its often the difference between getting the job, and not. You need to prepare in SO many areas. Have you done enough company research? Have you read, re-read and re-re-read the job specification? Have you researched the route to get to the office? Do you know what you’re wearing? The list goes on. Just take some time to think and prepare.

  • Being late

Firstly, let me just say, being exactly on-time, is late. Whatever your interview start time is, your actual arrival time needs to be 10 minutes before that. If the unthinkable is happening and those last minute roadworks are making it look like you could be late, remain calm. The best thing to do in this situation is to call them. No emailing or texting now, a straight apologetic and explanatory phone call is needed. Try on multiple occasions if you don’t get through the first time. They will appreciate the heads up and it will go a long way to rectifying the damage. Likewise, a SUPER early arrival is also not a good look. Please don’t rock up to you interview 45-60 minutes before hand, and if you do, just sit in your car, or go for a walk.

That it for today. Did you agree with out list? Can you think of any more? If so, we’d love to hear from you.

If you, or anyone you know is looking to start their career, but they are having issues identifying what direction to take it, we are here to help. Career Smart is a unique career consultancy focusing on providing young adults with all the required tools that enable them to succeed in a modern, competitive job market.

We offer a comprehensive range of specialist 1-to-1 coaching packages spanning over a 8-weeks. The coaching takes place over video calling, and is designed to help the person identify the right career path for them, and offers them all the tools, guidance, support, tips and tricks to allow them to stand out from the crowd, and succeed.