Direct Recruitment

How to Ensure You Don't Get the Job

Lisa Sampson, senior consultant at Direct Recruitment, on ten things that won't get you the job.

How to Ensure You Don't Get the Job

1. Exaggerating your skill level, adding in a few white lies or inflating your grades - will get you nowhere.

Regardless of what you've heard these embellishments aren't acceptable and don't go ignored. Recruiters and interviewers are well versed in spotting bollocks - especially when you start contradicting yourself in interviews.

Don’t put yourself in a position where you have to memorise the fictional things you have and haven’t done. Companies do check your work experience. HR will check your qualifications. Inflating your 2:2 to a 2:1 will only make you look like a fraud when a potential employer rings up your University.

There are other ways to perk up your CV if you feel like your achievements aren’t enough to make you stand out from the crowd and land a job.

Expand your online profiles; get involved in the online forums in the industries that you're interested in. Establish your tech skills by taking advantage of the numerous online tutorials and classes available for free online, learn to code or something. Take the time, energy and stress it takes to memorise all the white lies you’re telling and just actually learn the skills - it won’t take that long.

2.    Don't disclose employment gaps

Full disclosure is always in your best interest. Mention the reason why there is a gap in your employment history briefly - don't expand on the reasons why.
Recruiters are more often than not, understanding of employment gaps, yet less understanding of seemingly sketchy omissions.

3.    Don't check your resumes and cover letters for spelling and grammatical errors 

It’s not only an incredibly awkward moment when you’ve listed that you’re "detail oriented" in your CV and you’ve misspelt business, successful and misplaced a few apostrophes - but a slightly unforgivable one too. In a time when technology does most, if not all of your spelling and grammar work - you don’t have many excuses. You can always get an extra pair of human eyes to proofread your resume for you if you don’t entirely trust the technological overlords.

4.    Be incredibly autonomous and/or impersonal during your interview 

As important as interview prep is, there is such a thing as being too rehearsed. Coming across as being robotic can be a big turn off for recruiters. The interview is your chance to show your personality away from the condensed written version of yourself in the paragraph of your cover letter or your resume.

Study the common questions, tailor them to suit yourself. Ensure that they aren’t rehearsed to the point that they start sounding like scripted lines.  

5.    Use your interview as a safe place to vent about horrible bosses and co-workers 

That moment when an interviewer asks, "Name an instance where you’ve had an issue with a difficult co-worker" and you feel the anger bubble up as you remember a particular incident involving a particular co-worker, your face feels hot, and you start shaking and you erupt with red hot fury as you relive the incompetency of XZY. Stop. It just makes you look like a negative person, who won’t be a team player. Who wants that in a new hire? 

Bad mouthing previous employers and co-workers shows that you aren’t professional. Worse still if you’re putting said employer of co-worker down as a reference - as recruiters will be calling up and having a conversation with them.

6.    Be completely avoidant of obvious social cues 

Nerves can get the best of everyone - we've all had that moment where we've laughed a little too hard at a joke that wasn't that funny or given an awkward delayed laugh a few seconds too late.  

Things like leaving your phone on during an interview and having it ring whilst you stammer out the answer to; "Tell me about a time when you took responsibility for an error and held yourself personally accountable" - are interviewing poison. There’s nothing tenser than the sound of a phone in a bag, vibrating against cold, hard, tiled flooring whilst everyone else in the room tries their hardest to ignore the vacuous buzzing sound. It is best to just turn all phones and electronics off.

If you’re nervous about your interviewing etiquette, ask family members and friends to help prepare for the interview with you. Try free online coaching sessions; look for YouTube videos that help with phone and video interviews - just a little practice to help acclimatise you to the process. 

If you’ve made it through to the interviewing stage, then there’s clearly something about you that they’ve liked on paper - this is your time to show them what you’re like in person.

7.    Leave incriminatingly embarrassing information about yourself online

55% of recruiters check search engines for background information on candidates,
according to a study conducted by CareerBuilder.

Your online footprint can cause some serious issues for you if you’ve got some embarrassing material about yourself floating around cyberspace. Old Twitter remarks, Facebook posts and blog entries can come back to haunt you.

It’s in your best interest to go forth and clean up your social media trail. Anything you wouldn’t like your grandparents to see - get rid of it. Or improve your privacy settings. Facebook allows you to choose which groups of friends can see what and Twitter and Instagram have locked privacy and visibility settings. 

Of course these settings still won’t necessarily prevent people from finding your indiscretions if they really looked hard enough. 35% of recruiters said that they have rejected a candidate's application due to things that they had found online. However, many recruiters also said that they would not let what candidates chose to do in their personal lives colour their decisions - they would only look for serious red flags.

8.    Ask what the company does

Not only does this make you look severely unprepared it also makes you look incredibly unprofessional and a little stupid - it takes a few seconds in a waiting room to Google a name, if you’re really that lazy.

You are expected to research the company before hand and base some questions on the facts that you’ve garnered elsewhere.  Ask questions that show that you’re interested and that you’ve done some homework - "What’s the company culture like?", "I read that your company offers training courses, would that extend to this role?"

9.    Arrive late
Turning up to an interview late makes you seem unprepared and indicates to the recruiter that you may have time management issues. Your work won’t be turned in on time, you can’t plan ahead and you clearly can’t check the numerous travel alerts available to you - at least that’s what recruiter’s may believe even if you’ve tried your hardest to get there on time. 

If you are running late, call the company and let them know.

10.    Get too personal

Flirting in a job interview is not going to help you get the job. In fact it is probably going to hinder you, but at least you’ll be memorable - infamously. That goes for sob stories as well, this isn’t the X Factor, and you don’t get bonus points for having the most tear jerking back-story. There’s a line between friendliness and over friendliness. Adding small details about your personal life in your responses is fine, going into details about your financial troubles and your unruly teenager - not so much. 

Lisa Sampson is senior consultant at Direct Recruitment