Ace the interview by avoiding these common mistakes

By Adrian Tan

Would you like to pass the job interview? Of course you want to!

But job interviews can at times be tough and intimidating. You speak with people you are meeting for the first time, trying your best to impress them.

As an interview begins, you may be overwhelmed by nerves and say things that you shouldn’t have.

And it is not just about what you say. Things that you do before an interview could also ruin the chances of scoring your dream job.

I recently spoke to career coaches and hiring managers on what are the worst mistakes of job seekers that they have come across before and during interviews.

Whether you are fresh out of school or an experienced worker, here are some common mistakes that you don’t want to make during the job application process:

From career coaches:

1. Telling the interviewer about your many expectations - Celina Koh, Employment and Employability Institute (e2i)

This jeopardises your chances of getting hired. You need to make sure the interviewer even wants you in the first place. Focus on what you can contribute and negotiate with your potential employer on your wishlist only after you have secured the job offer.

2. Sending multiple resumes to different job positions from the same company - Anonymous

All resumes to a company go to the human resource department. HR would view you as indecisive and that you are desperate to get any job.

3. Bad grammatical mistakes in your resumes - Kathy Lau, e2i

This does not reflect well of you. It is especially important when you are applying for jobs that require a good command of English, such as communications-related jobs. Check your resume to ensure that there are no grammatical mistakes before sending out your application. Download the ‘Grammarly’ app, which can be used in Microsoft Word, Outlook and other platforms.

4. Too fixated on applying for certain types of jobs - Charlene Ong, e2i

I have met candidates who stated they only wanted to work in the government sector.  

5. Ignoring job requirements - Ezenn Tan, e2i

Candidates often do not understand the requirements of the jobs that they have applied for.

6. Everything including the kitchen sink - Gerald Tan, a statutory board

The inclusion of information like NRIC, address, age, nationality, marital status and photo in the resume could put job applicants at a disadvantage.

From hiring managers:

7. Smoke-bombing - Edison Zhuang, Genesis Networks

There is no point listing skills that candidates are not competent in or overselling themselves in their resumes as they would be exposed. Employers will be hesitant to hire them.

8. Factory-mill approach - Mark Hedley, Deutsche Bank

Thinking that all interviews are the same. Too many candidates take the same approach to every interview and are caught by surprise at times when a later-round interviewer does not want hear a regurgitation of their resumes.

9. “You owe me a living” attitude - Styles Chong, Carnation Footcare

Coming to an interview as if employers owe the candidates a living. Asking for a ridiculous salary even though the candidates have little or no experience. One candidate insisted on arranging an interview at a later time in the day because she wanted to visit her grandmother’s house after the interview. She was struck off the shortlist.

10. “I don’t know” - Vidya R. Nair

Saying “I don’t know” is a pet peeve of mine. I always pose challenging questions and the better candidates would say “I’m not really sure, but I can certainly look it up or ask around and get back to you.” That shows initiative.

11. No questions - Eugene Seah, Trainium Academy

One of the worst mistakes is to avoid answering when the candidates are asked, “Are there any questions that you would like to ask me?”

12. Badmouthing - Stanley Fu, AIA

“If I am on the phone with your ex-boss now, what would he say of you?” Sometimes, the candidates would say how their bosses had ill-treated them and criticised their previous companies. Never spit on the hands that had fed them. Employers will not recruit such candidates as they might also speak bad about them in future.

13. Dear Sir/Madam - Ankur Rathi, Reliance Industries

Cover Letter starting with “Dear Sir/Madam” even though the names of the hiring managers are mentioned in the job advertisement.

Adrian Tan is a blogger who writes about entrepreneurship and human resource issues.