When good people make BIG interview mistakes

Navigating the Interview Gauntlet: 10 Common Mistakes to Avoid for a Successful Career Move

The job interview: a crucial juncture where your skills, personality, and potential meet the scrutiny of a potential employer. In the competitive landscape of the UK accountancy job market, making a positive impression during an interview is paramount. However, many candidates inadvertently sabotage their chances by committing common interview mistakes. In this article, we will delve into the 10 most prevalent blunders that job seekers often make and provide insights on how to steer clear of them.

  1. Inadequate Preparation: One of the cardinal sins of interviewing is going in unprepared. Failing to research the company, its values, and the role you’re applying for can leave you stumbling through questions. Showcasing ignorance about the company’s operations or recent achievements can signal disinterest to the interviewer. Prior to the interview, thoroughly research the company, understand its culture, and be ready to articulate how your skills align with their needs. We’re on hand to help you with this so make sure you use our market knowledge and accept all offers of pre interview pep talks.
  2. Poor Body Language: Non-verbal communication can speak volumes. From a limp handshake to slouching in your chair, poor body language can undermine your verbal responses. Maintaining eye contact, offering a firm handshake, and sitting up straight convey confidence and professionalism. Be aware of your body language throughout the interview to ensure you’re sending positive signals. We’ve written much more about the importance of body language here.
  3. Overlooking the Basics: It might seem elementary, but candidates often overlook the basics, such as arriving on time, dressing appropriately, and having a copy of your CV on hand to refer back to. Punctuality demonstrates reliability, dressing professionally reflects respect for the company and the position, and having your CV and a list of questions on hand shows preparedness.
  4. Talking Too Much or Too Little: Striking the right balance between being overly verbose and too concise can be challenging. Rambling on without a clear point can be perceived as a lack of focus, while providing overly brief answers may suggest a lack of depth. Practice answering common interview questions concisely, emphasising key points without unnecessary elaboration.
  5. Failure to Showcase Achievements: An interview is the opportune moment to showcase your accomplishments. Some candidates, however, focus too much on responsibilities rather than achievements. Employers are interested in what you have accomplished in your previous roles. Quantify your achievements where possible and highlight how your contributions made a positive impact.
  6. Inability to Handle Curveball Questions: Unexpected or challenging questions are par for the course in interviews. Candidates who stumble or appear flustered when faced with these curveballs may give the impression of being ill-prepared or lacking resilience. Practice responding to a variety of interview questions, including those that require you to think on your feet.
  7. Not Asking Questions: At the end of an interview, when the interviewer asks if you have any questions, responding with a blank stare or a generic “No, I think you covered everything” can be detrimental. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your genuine interest in the position and the company. The question section of the first interview is not the time to grill your interviewers on rewards or start negotiating terms, don’t jump the gun and leave those discussion for the next stage but do prepare thoughtful questions that show you’ve done your homework and are genuinely curious about the role.
  8. Speaking Negatively About Previous Employers: Venting frustrations about a previous employer can be a major red flag for interviewers. Regardless of the circumstances of your departure from a previous job, focus on the positive aspects and what you learned from the experience. Speaking negatively about former colleagues or employers can create doubt about your professionalism and ability to handle workplace challenges.
  9. Not Tailoring Responses to the Job: Providing generic responses that could apply to any job is a common mistake. Tailor your answers to showcase how your specific skills and experiences align with the requirements of this position. This demonstrates that you’ve thought about how your background uniquely qualifies you for the role.
  10. Lack of Follow-Up: The interview doesn’t end when you walk out the door. We’re always happy to pass on an email of thanks or an email where you reiterate how excited you are about the role.

“The UK accountancy recruitment market is slowly shifting and though the number of vacancies still outweigh available talent, accountants do need to work harder to be offered the kinds of rewards we’ve seen in recent years. Avoiding these common interview mistakes is essential for success and will 100% increase your chances of making a positive and lasting impression. Remember, an interview is not only about showcasing your skills but also about demonstrating your ability to navigate the professional landscape with confidence and poise.”

Garry Howling, Managing Director

If you’re interview ready, we’re ready to help you succeed! Reach out to our team of friendly recruitment consultants in absolute confidence to take the next steps towards your future in practice.


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