You have a CV that heaves with international placements and corporate acronyms, a contact book of referees only too happy to sing your praises, and an ingrained belief in your own ability to do the job.
But somehow, inexplicably, you have been passed over and the position has gone to another candidate. You are bewildered. Was it something you said?
According to managing director of Macro Recruitment Daryl Keeley, an inordinate number of candidates come unstuck by what they say (or do not say) in an interview.
“You start to see the same patterns over and over, and you often get the poker player who is extremely hard to get to know and draw out, or you have the person that loves to talk,” Mr Keeley says.
Whether interview jitters turn you into a mute statue or a blubbering chatterbox, here is how to ensure you don’t blow your chances with a careless slip of the tongue.
Show me the money
You may be up to your eyeballs in debt and keen to secure a decent-paying job, but try not to mention money during the first interview.
“It gives the interviewer the impression that you are primarily motivated by money,” says Mr Keeley.
“And they need to assess what you are worth first before money can enter the discussion.”
It also reveals a worker who is potentially very self-focused, Mr Keeley adds.
“Companies hire staff to fix a certain problem and a candidate who focuses on what is in it for them is giving the wrong idea,” he says.
“It suggests that rather than fixing a problem for them, you are simply going to become another one.”
Employment Market Analyst at Randstad, Steve Shepherd, thinks he has heard almost every kind of bad mouthing possible from candidates.
“I never cease to be surprised by how many people will bad mouth their old boss,” he says.
“As soon as you start blaming someone else, all the employer thinks is, ‘It takes two to tango’.
“Furthermore, it’s a very small world and if you are moving between jobs in the one industry, there is a chance that the employer knows the person you are talking about.”
In addition to refraining from lengthy treatises on your old boss’s shortcomings, you should also mind your manners.
This means no swearing, proffering a “no comment” to any curly questions or taking calls on your mobile during the interview (and yes, according to Mr Keeley, these have all happened).
Don’t get personal
Many candidates get nervous in the interview process and may “overshare” details of their private life as a result.
“I have heard about divorces, illnesses and major operations to varying levels of gory detail,” says Mr Shepherd.
“You have to ask yourself whether you would tell people in the street this personal information, and you probably wouldn’t. Well, the interviewer is no different.”
Don’t be aloof
It may seem like a no-brainer, but many candidates forget to do one crucial thing: show they are interested in the job.
“This happens a lot in IT jobs where some are not overly communicative types,” says Mr Keeley.
“But it is a good idea when shaking someone’s hand at the end to thank them for their time and tell them you are interested in the role.”
And as a final word of warning: if you are taken to a licensed café for the interview and there is liquor on the menu, resist the temptation to order it.
“Young kids are more likely to make this mistake,” says Mr Keeley.
“On one occasion I went ahead and bought the person a beer and it just sat there, they didn’t touch it.
“I think he realised what a goose he had been.”