Top errors costing job applicants the job in 2022

New independent research by specialised recruiter Robert Half finds that the three most damaging mistakes a job applicant can make to their likelihood of securing a role are not researching a company or industry before the interview (33%) followed by arriving too late (29%) and wearing inappropriate attire to the interview (27%).  

  • Not researching a company before the interview (33%), arriving too late (29%), and wearing inappropriate attire (27%) are the top three the most damaging mistake a job applicant can make to their likelihood of securing a role
  • Many candidates in today’s market treat a virtual interview as less formal than an in-person one

Sydney, 27 April 2022 – In Australia’s skills-short market, candidates may be in the driver’s seat, but a relaxed and complacent approach to the hiring process can still reduce the chances of successfully securing a role. New independent research by specialised recruiter Robert Half finds that the three most damaging mistakes a job applicant can make to their likelihood of securing a role are not researching a company or industry before the interview (33%) followed by arriving too late (29%) and wearing inappropriate attire to the interview (27%).  

Historically high job vacancy rates are giving candidates access to more job opportunities, but they should not mistake quantity for a lack of quality. With companies still very much focussed on finding the best candidates despite the tight talent pool, a perceived lack of effort or complacency during the interview process can say a lot about a candidate’s suitability for the company culture or ability to perform in a role,said Nicole Gorton, Director Robert Half Australia in announcing Robert Half’s latest survey results.  

Coming to the interview prepared

A lack of knowledge about the company and industry, and not asking questions during the interview are cited by 33% and 25% of Australian employers respectively as part of the top three damaging interview mistakes that can be remediated through thorough interview preparation.

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 company’s goals and workplace culture also enables candidates to have meaningful discussions with interviewers about how their values and objectives are aligned, including asking sensible questions about the company, responsibilities, or expectations.

“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. 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 in to the bigger picture,” said Gorton.     

Avoidable errors on the day

On the day of the interview, applicants need to be careful and 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%), inappropriate attire (27%) and not turning off their mobile (21%) were identified as behavioural missteps that would jeopardise a candidate’s chances of securing the role before the interview even begins.

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%) of Australian employers state that speaking poorly of a previous employer is an important indicator of unsuitability for the role, closely followed by asking about perks in the first interview (24%).

After the interview

Following up after the interview with a thank-you email is important to reiterate the interest in the role. One fifth of hiring managers state that forgetting to follow up after the interview could damage their chances of securing the role. Conversely, 22% state that following up too aggressively after the interview could be perceived as harmful to secure the role. Following up within 24 hours after the interview will help the candidate’s application. If they haven’t heard back from the hiring manager, it is acceptable to follow up on an interview via a phone call after a few days. It is ill-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. 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. While technical issues can arise, testing the connection and ensure good lighting and audio connection is the remote equivalent of arriving on time and greeting the interviewer with a firm handshake – these first impressions can make a tremendous impact,” concluded Gorton.          

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Notes to editors 

About the research 

The annual study is developed by Robert Half and was conducted online in November – December 2021 by an independent research company, surveying 300 hiring managers, including 100 CFOs and 100 CIOs, from companies across Australia. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management, and trends in the workplace.   

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