Four job interview errors which will ruin your chances of getting hired

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Walking into a job interview can be incredibly stressful and people often resort to some common tactics to help get themselves through as confidently as possible, such as mirroring the office culture of the company. Hiring bias expert and CEO of Applied, Khyati Sundaram, shared with which of these tactics are ruining the chances of getting hired and what to do instead.

Don’t try to “fit in”

It’s easy for candidates to slip into mirroring the “vibe” of a company or the interviewer either to prove that they are a good culture fit or to hide their nervousness, but Ms Sundaram said this is a dangerous trap.

A company’s culture is likely to reflect the dominant demographic, meaning anyone who doesn’t fit the ‘norm’ isn’t likely to get hired due to unconscious bias. Employers should instead be assessing whether candidates’ core values align with their own mission and company values. Crucially, this doesn’t require you to be from a specific background or to have mutual interests outside of work.”

Rather than trying to mimic the social environment of the company, candidates should showcase that the values and mission of the company are aligned with theirs.

Be yourself and show how and why you believe in what the business stands for. This will tell your prospective employer a lot more about how you’ll perform and add value; and also how likely you are to stick around,” she added. 

Don’t rely on a CV

Many people walk into an interview expecting to regurgitate their CV in spoken form, but this is the opposite of what hiring and recruitment personnel are looking for. When inviting someone for an interview it insinuates they wish to know more about the candidate than what they’ve already seen.

“The only way that hiring managers can accurately predict how you’ll perform on the job, is to use ‘work sample’ assessments. These are job-specific questions designed to test how a candidate would think and perform in the role. 

“So rather than counting on reeling off CV highlights at an interview, be prepared to talk about scenarios directly relevant to the role you’re applying for. You should still make sure your CV is up to date and free from typos – but try not to lean on it or talk too much about what you’ve done up until now in your interview,” Ms Sundaram noted.

Take time to answer

In the stressful environment of a job interview, having silence is often the last thing candidates want but it’s far more valuable to take time and think about an answer than just filling up the quiet.

“Your interview is not a TikTok recording. A good piece of general advice is to take your time to think before answering questions, and to slow down your speech. This will give you a chance to consider how to weave those all-important skills into your responses, and ensure you’ve considered all angles.”

She continued: “You want to give the interviewer a chance to hear your stellar answers. So although it’s easy to rush to get your answers out when you’re feeling apprehensive, make a conscious effort to speak a little more slowly.” 

Be confident

Job interview nerves are natural as well as the feeling that the interviewer is looking to make the candidate slip up or make a mistake to prove that they aren’t the right candidate. However, this simply isn’t true.

Doing one’s best to answer all questions as truthfully and thoughtfully as possible is what interviewers are looking for to ensure that they find the right person for the role.

“Their job is about making sure that you and the role are the best fit possible. This means that it might be in your best interests too if – worst case scenario – you don’t get hired this time around. Take comfort in the fact that when you do get the job it will be one which enables you to fulfil your fullest potential, and hopefully one which you want to stay in for a long time,” Ms Sundaram said.

It’s also important to remember that a job interview works both ways. It’s not just for hiring managers to grill potential employees, it’s a chance for candidates to ensure that this is a company they want to work for in a role that they will be good at and enjoy.

With that in mind, Ms Sundaram shared some insights on the recent Tiktok trend: Jobtok, wherein professionals share advice, hacks and red flags candidates should watch out for.

Small talk

Small talk is a part of general, daily life and can help build rapport between strangers, but in a job interview this tactic serves no purpose other than to show candidates that the hiring process is likely a game of popularity based on what bias the interviewer has.

“Whether or not a hiring manager and interviewee are both members of polo clubs is completely irrelevant to the individual’s ability to do the job. Interviews should be less about small talk, and all about letting your relevant skills shine through. So focus on engaging with employers who use structured application and interview processes that assess aptitudes. When interviewers stray from set questions into ‘banter’ is where bias creeps in.”

The hidden job market

There has been a rising number of videos on Tiktok claiming that over 60 percent of jobs are never officially posted online in public platforms, this includes internal hiring, ads posted only to certain audiences, limiting any given person’s ability to see the ad.  

Some of the videos showcase ‘hacks’ to be able to view these selectively posted job ads, but Ms Sundaram argues: “Ask yourself whether or not you’d actually want to work for a company for whom diversity and inclusion is clearly such a low priority. By reducing the pool from which they’re recruiting, companies who hire internally limit candidate diversity and contribute to homogeneity across teams. Rather than encouraging them, look for companies who are advertising across multiple job boards.”

The LinkedIn referral

Referrals have been around much longer than TikTok, but JobTok recruiters and business personas have been increasing the awareness of how importantly these referrals are, especially if one has connections within the business the want to apply for.

“In some ways, it makes sense. If an existing employee recommends a candidate, the hiring manager will inevitably view them more favourably by virtue of the personal connection: hello, bias. Besides that, candidates will only choose to give the names of those they know will give them a glowing reference; making the credibility of the referral questionable at best. 

“But whilst personal referrals have led to friendship groups occupying the entirety of senior management in the past, there’s no guarantee that speculative Linkedin requests will work. In fact, they may be viewed as cheeky and totally backfire. Or, they may work, and again you risk landing a job with a company which is less than transparent and certainly not focused on offering equality of opportunity,” she added.

TikTok’s job market

The new update including TikTok Resumes have taken over the platform, helping potential employees stand out to recruiters, helping the job market move steadily towards video-based applications.

Ms Sundaram argued that while this tactic is trending, it may create additional problems for candidates applying with it: “Traditional CVs are bad enough when it comes to revealing identifying information which triggers bias. A person’s name or school tells the hiring manager nothing about how well-suited individuals are to a particular role. Equally, skin colour and accent is completely irrelevant. But by adding visuals and audio into the mix, video CVs risk amplifying existing racial and gender biases, and ruling out certain candidates before hiring managers have even met them. 

“Another popular hack recommends searching for hashtags like #nowhiring or #hiringnow to find videos advertising roles. From there, you can directly message the hiring manager that posted it. But don’t go thinking that they won’t check your own content. Having handed over your account, you’re still vulnerable to bias.” This advice is especially important to those who are creators on the platform as they need to ensure their content won’t indirectly injure their application.

Interview questions to look out for

Certain interview questions can seem impossible to answer concisely and professionally, such as the dreaded, ‘Tell me more about yourself’. Ms Sundaram advised that this question is searching for a more personal side of a candidate’s story.

“It’s a casual opener which is often used to steer the interview in a conversational direction and, once again, leans into the hiring manager’s biases. 

Of course, you can respond by highlighting skills and aptitudes which suit you to the role. But if you come up against this question, perhaps you should instead be asking yourself: is this a red flag? There are plenty of employers out there who follow fair and structured interviews designed to find out the information that matters and nothing more: objective rubrics which are proven predictors of performance. They’re far more worthy of your time,” she concluded.  
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