The Business Class

James Caan: 5 ways to avoid losing out on that dream job

James Caan, Entrepreneur
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Many of my posts in the past have focused on giving advice on how to sell yourself properly to prospective employees. While there are many things you can do to land a job, the reality is that it is far easier to make basic errors and mistakes when applying for a job.

There are plenty of pitfalls that need to be negotiated during the application process and as someone who has always been in and around the recruitment industry, it never ceases to surprise me how many candidates make very basic and avoidable mistakes. The same mistakes keep cropping up time and again but most are easily avoided if time and effort is spent on preparation.

Here are some of the most common mistakes people make.

1. Fail to show enough interest

It may seem like very obvious advice but one of the most important things any person needs to do during an interview is to appear engaged and interested. Attitude is everything and if you go into the interview process with the wrong attitude then you are always going to fall at the first hurdle.

2. Fail to do your research

One of the things an interviewer will do during the course of the application process is try and find out how much the candidate knows about the company they want to work for. Doing your research is vital; if you go into an interview having done no homework then you will get found out very quickly. For example, if you're applying for a finance role, you should at the very least have their latest set of accounts. If you're applying for a marketing role, have a case study of a recent campaign they may have launched.

3. Fail to understand the demands of the role

The key to understanding the role and what it entails is always going to be in the job description. If you don't take the time to study the job description properly then it will become obvious at an early stage in the recruitment process. The smartest applicants will always tailor their answers to the needs and demands of the role. Generic answers that you would give at any interview should be avoided – always bring your skills and expertise back to how they fit with the job description.

4. Fail to stay cool under pressure

The interview is a difficult and challenging process for everyone involved but it is vital to stay calm, professional and in control of the situation at all times. It is easier said than done, particularly if you have a really tough interviewer, but keep emotion out of the whole process. If you are in charge of your emotions and approach the situation professionally, then your answers are going to be more considered and relevant.

5. Fail to show any personality

Perhaps the key ingredient to landing any job is that little spark of personality. When you are looking to take someone on you are looking for someone who stands out from the crowd. Remember employers are always looking for dynamic people who can drive the company forward. People who fail to give anything of themselves in an interview are always going to struggle to get themselves noticed by prospective employers.

James Caan is one of the U.K.'s most successful entrepreneurs, as well as the guest presenter of CNBC's "The Business Class".