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They didn't get the job

Research the company beforehand

Okay, so mergers and acquisitions are commonplace in the civil engineering industry, but there's no excuse for turning up for an interview at the wrong - if similarly-named - company as one candidate did (Nearly as careless as the candidate who applied for a job with 'Bale for Betty').

Prepare your answers in advance

Mott MacDonald's group personnel manager John Eyers recalls a candidate who, when asked why he wanted a particular job, responded: 'Because it seems secure'.

'He said nothing about relishing the challenge, or making use of his experience and knowledge, ' says Eyers. 'I thought, 'This guy just wants a soft option'.'

Be honest but polite

George Law, personnel manager at Balfour Beatty Rail, recalls an incident relating to the psychometric testing of graduate candidates: 'About 99% agree with our findings, ' he says, 'but there was one applicant who took issue to being classed as argumentative, and asserted perhaps too firmly that she wasn't.'

. . . but not like this

'The best - or should I say worst - candidate I can remember, ' says the human resources manager for a major southeast-based contractor, 'is the one who arrived at the interview and said 'If the terms are good enough, I might consider joining'. Needless to say, it wasn't a very long interview.'

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