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Why won’t they hire you? 4 ways to sharpen your interview game

·Personal Finance Editor
·4-min read
A person interviewing another man for a job virtually while he looks at his resume.
Some job seekers are not taking the interview process seriously. (Source: Getty)

Australian businesses are desperate for workers, putting jobseekers in the driver's seat, but being too relaxed about job hunting may be hurting your chances.

New independent research by specialised recruiter Robert Half found the three most damaging mistakes a job applicant could make to their likelihood of securing a role:

  1. Not researching a company or industry before the interview

  2. Arriving late to the interview

  3. Wearing inappropriate clothes to an interview

While, on face value, these may not seem like the biggest things, the research found they made a huge difference.

“Historically high job vacancy rates are giving candidates access to more job opportunities, but they should not mistake quantity for a lack of quality,” director of Robert Half Australia Nicole Gorton said.

So, here’s what you can do to make sure you secure the role.

Come to the interview prepared

A lack of knowledge about the company and industry, and not asking questions during the interview, were cited by 33 per cent and 25 per cent of Australian employers, respectively, as part of the top three damaging interview mistakes that could be made.

Preparation for an interview should start with thoroughly revising the job description, including the job title, key duties and tasks, and skills the employer is looking for.

Researching the company and gaining insights into the workplace culture enables candidates to have meaningful discussions with interviewers about how their values and objectives are aligned.

“A well-prepared job applicant should demonstrate three levels of understanding in an interview: what the macro-trends influencing the industry are, where the company sits in the market – including recent projects, growth initiatives or milestones - and the impact they can have within that context,” Gorton said.

“Taking the time to understand this not only demonstrates a passion for the opportunity, but also makes it easier for the applicant to convey where their skills fit into the bigger picture.”

Avoidable errors on the day

On the day of the interview, applicants need to be careful to avoid a series of mistakes that might cost them the job.

When asked about the top three most harmful mistakes a jobseeker could make during the interview process, arriving too late (29 per cent), inappropriate attire (27 per cent) and not turning off their mobile (21 per cent) were identified as missteps that would jeopardise a candidate’s chances of securing the role before the interview even began.

While preparation is key to conveying a candidate’s suitability for a role, a job interview is also an opportunity to assess their professional demeanour, cultural alignment with the team, and company values.

A quarter (25 per cent) of Australian employers said speaking poorly of a previous employer was an important indicator of unsuitability for a role, closely followed by asking about perks in the first interview (24 per cent).

After the interview

Following up after the interview with a thank-you email was important, to reiterate the interest in the role, the research found.

One-fifth of hiring managers said forgetting to follow up after the interview could damage their chances of securing the role.

Conversely, 22 per cent said following up too aggressively after the interview could be perceived as harmful to securing the role.

Following up within 24 hours after the interview would help the candidate’s application. If they hadn’t heard back from the hiring manager, it was acceptable to follow up on an interview via a phone call after a few days.

But, it was not advised to call daily or weekly for a decision.

Virtual vs in-person conduct should be the same

Driven by technology, virtual interviews have become more common, but this shouldn’t be taken as an invitation to behave or present more casually than for an in-person interview setting.

Despite interviewing from a home or other remote environment, candidates should still dress and conduct themselves the same way they would for an in-person interview.

“One of the most common errors that has emerged in the past 18 months is skilled applicants treating a virtual interview as less formal than an in-person one and conducting themselves accordingly,” Gorton said.

“The applicant should consider the commute time they save as extra time for preparation before the interview – both ensuring they are presentable and revising their notes.”

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