Are you guilty of these seven interview mistakes?

Securing your next placement can be a daunting task; from creating a fantastic CV that highlights your key attributes, to writing a compelling covering letter – it’s not easy. Yet, all of that hard work can be undone in seconds when making it through to interview.

Follow our checklist and see whether you’re making any of the seven deadly interview mistakes. They might just be holding you back from landing your dream job.

1. Arriving late

Preparing for your interview shouldn’t just include how you’ll answer the questions. Ensuring you arrive on time (preferably ten minutes early), will show that you are punctual and a good candidate.

If you’ve never been to the place of interview and will be navigating by internet maps, you should leave yourself plenty of time to park and prepare yourself before stepping through the door.

HCL Social Care resourcer, Julia Callaghan added “another top-tip is to drive to the interview a day or so before to make sure that you’re comfortable with the route and parking arrangements.”

2. Not dressing for the occasion

First impressions count, so you need to make sure that you’re dressed accordingly. Smart office wear is often the safest bet when interviewing with local authorities. Even though you’ll be dressed much more casually when in post, it’s important to show that you’re professional and are taking things seriously.

HCL’s Emily comments, “Dress up. It’s always better to be too smart, rather than too casual.”

3. Being too casual

As a profession, social care isn’t as corporate as say banking, but you’ll still need to retain an air of formality when interviewing. This covers everything from tone of voice to your body language. Try to avoid slang terms and be sure to sit upright and give a firm handshake upon arrival.

Resourcer Julia adds, “If I had a penny for each recruiter that fed back with comments like “was too casual” or “too relaxed”, I’d be rich.”

4. Making up answers

If you’re unsure of a question, don’t be afraid to either ask the interviewer to repeat themselves or say that you don’t know.

By making up answers or worse still, lying, you’ll set yourself up for a fall. Whether the resulting questions trip you up or you elaborate on a qualification that you cannot evidence – it’s only ever going to end badly.

HCL’s Emily continues, “Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know! Nobody knows everything and many employers will appreciate your honesty rather than a blatant fabrication of the truth.”

5. Being unprepared

Before each interview, your consultant will prepare you; this will include tips and typical questions that might be asked. These questions often include:

  • Why do you want to work for [insert local authority]?
  • What skills can you bring to the team?
  • Give examples of case management…
  • What makes a good assessment?
  • How do you feel about supervision?

Be sure to have an answer ready for each of the above and use the STAR system when answering competency based questions; which leads us nicely to point number 6.

6. Not providing enough detail

Interviewer: Give an example of a time when you were faced with a challenging situation.

This is a simple question for any social worker to answer, but you’d be surprised how many people stumble. Using the STAR answering system, you’ll be able to answer each question clearly, concisely and in a structured manner.

Situation – When posted at [local authority], I had to survey all fifty of the young people in the drug and alcohol team. I had to decipher the journey they took to their current situation and suggest how we could adapt the service to their needs.

Task – The survey included ten questions that sought to get to the bottom of the issues that these young people faced.

Action – I sat down with each candidate, ensuring that they were comfortable. We broke the ice with introductions and gently led in to the questions. I told them that they could stop at any time they felt uncomfortable and empathised throughout.

Results – I built a rapport with all of the young people and found that all but three had been members of a certain youth group. Further to the survey we met with the youth group and changed their methods of engagement.

7. Not following up after the interview

“We’ve got a few more people to interview; we’ll be in touch early next week and let you know if you’ve been successful”

It may feel like the end of the interview, but the most proactive candidates will follow up with a call to their consultant, letting them know how it went. The feedback that we receive is invaluable and helps us to improve our service and gain a better understanding how suitable you are for the role.

Have you made any of these mistakes? Or perhaps, you’ve done something even more embarrassing? Be sure to tell us in the comments.

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