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Interview bad habits

We have collected together examples of interview bad habits and solutions for you to overcome and fix them.

People who don’t know you will often see you in a very different way to the way you see yourself or your friends and family see you. But how can you know what impression you make on total strangers, such as on a recruiter, at an interview. And how do you find out before you actually get in front of them? The best way to know is by doing a mock interview, where a friend or family member plays the role of a potential employer and asks you questions. But here’s the cringe-worthy bit…you should also record it – preferably in a video format. This type of exercise can be really revealing as it brings any bad habits you have, and knew nothing about, to your attention. 

What could be some of those habits mentioned above? Here’s a few examples of the most common ones:

The pauser

In your everyday talking style, you may very well use an abundance use lots of pause words such as ‘erm’, ‘aah’, ‘errr’, ‘you know’ or ‘like’. But do you really know how many of these meaningless words you use in, say, two minutes of conversation? Count them on your video – it can be significantly higher than you think! And guess what! When you are scared or nervous the count is likely to increase. To an employer, these sorts of words can sound alarm bells as it is unlikely they want a professional member of their organisation to talk that way. Such words may show that you are a poor communicator, you don’t have a good command of English and may not be able to deal with difficult or stressful situations easily. So, if you can see and hear that you use too many of these pause words, then it gives you a chance to change it before you get to your interview.

The fidgeter

Does your video interview show you fidgeting in your chair or swivelling it from side-to-side? You may not even be aware that you do it, but when you see it on a video it will suddenly become very obvious. From a recruiter’s point of view, a candidate that fidgets in their chair during an interview is actually very off-putting. It can distract them and they could unconsciously start spending more time waiting to see if you’ll stop swivelling your chair rather than paying 100% attention to your answers. A fidgeting candidate could indicate to a recruiter that this person is very nervous, lacks confidence and is unfocused – all qualities you don’t want to be associated with.

The pen twirler or clicker

Equally distracting to a recruiter is a candidate that constantly clicks their pen on/off or flicks their pen around and through their fingers or holds their pen between thumb and forefinger and twitches it back and forth. Not only is it a visual distraction, it can also make an annoying clicking noise too – doubly irritating for your recruiter. The golden rule is that you want your recruiter to remember you for the right reasons and for all the good things you’ve said, not because they couldn’t concentrate on what you had to say because of your pen twirling or clicking.

The swearer

We know it sounds obvious, but an interview (and for that matter the workplace) is not the place to bring out your favourite swear words. You may not consider some of the words you use to be swear words, as you may use them all the time in social situations with your friends. However, these have no place in your working environment and breaking the habit of using them is probably the safest way to avoid saying them by accident at an interview.

The rambler

Did you get asked a tricky question that you couldn’t answer? Did you get asked an easy one that you couldn’t answer? Did you get asked a question and then rambled on for ages without really answering the actual question properly? Recording a mock interview is a great way to help you spot which type of questions you find difficult or identify the type of questions you might get asked. You can then work out how to answer a particular question or how to answer a question more concisely rather than repeating the same mistake of providing a rambling, unfocused response.

The interrupter

So eager to answer the question, that you don’t actually wait until the interviewer has finished their sentence? Are you so sure what the next question will be that as the interviewer is finishing their last few words you talk over him? This is hugely irritating and shows you don’t listen well, that you are probably impatient and may even imply that you are cocky and overconfident. It’s a bad habit you want to break before your interview and certainly if you find yourself still doing this once you are employed. Make every effort to stop this bad habit as it may not be welcomed by your colleagues and senior teams.

These are just a few examples of bad habits that you may see and hear when you video yourself in a mock interview format. You may find it an awkward and embarrassing process, but it will help you – a lot! It will give you time before an important interview to work on any weaknesses you have identified and can help you present yourself as a good communicator with strong answers and a professional approach to the interview process.