What Not to Do During a Job Interview: Job Interview Mistakes

Explore common interview mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Photo: Thinkstock

By Adam Jazairi

Everybody makes mistakes, but if there’s one place you should avoid them, it’s during an interview. In most situations, we can atone for our errors over time, but job interview mistakes are a different beast. Since you probably only have one shot to prove yourself to a potential employer, you need to show them in that brief time frame that you’re collected, professional and ready to take on the job.

Review your resume! Nothing’s more embarrassing than not being able to accurately answer a question about a specific project you worked on.

Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. Once you have an idea of the most frequent interview mistakes, it’s easy to avoid making them. This list of common interview mistakes will help you familiarize yourself with some of the usual blunders, so you can come across as a seasoned pro in the interview room.

Job Interview Mistakes

  • Interview Mistake #1: Dressing inappropriately to an interview.

How to Avoid It: Research the culture of the company to get a sense of how to dress. If you have absolutely no idea, the safest bet is an understated, professional suit.

  • Interview Mistake #2: Showing up late.

How to Avoid It: If you’re the sort of person who is routinely late, leave a half-hour or an hour early. However long it takes to get there on time, GET THERE ON TIME. Few mistakes will ruin your chances faster than this one.

How to Avoid It: One of the most common job interview mistakes, this is also the easiest to prevent. Maintain good posture, stay relatively still, and keep eye contact as much as you can. Train yourself to avoid nervous habits like touching your face, swaying back and forth, or nodding excessively.

  • Interview Mistake #4: Lack of self-confidence.

How to Avoid It: Don’t mumble, don’t look toward the ground or at the table, and above all, don’t, sell yourself short! Too many people are afraid to highlight their positive qualities and accomplishments, but an interview is the perfect place to do so.

  • Interview Mistake #5: Lack of interest.

How to Avoid It: Asking questions about vacation time, benefits, or how relaxed the office environment is can have disastrous effects. Asking no questions at all can be even more fatal. Even if you want the job more than anything else in your life, your interviewers won’t know unless you show them!

  • Interview Mistake #6: Asking too many questions.

How to Avoid It: Ideally, you should wait to ask questions until your interviewer prompts you. Otherwise, ask questions when the opportunity arises organically in the conversation. It’s important to appear curious without bombarding interviewer with questions.

  • Interview Mistake #7: Interrupting the interviewer.

How to Avoid It: The best case scenario is that you’ll appear overeager; the worst case scenario is that you’ll appear disrespectful or downright rude. No matter how excited you are, make sure you’re listening actively and carefully for the interviewer, and wait for him or her to finish speaking before you respond.

  • Interview Mistake #8: Trash talking.

How to Avoid It: You’re likely to get a question or two about your former job or boss. By all means, do not take this as an opportunity to speak negatively about them! Accentuate the positive, and you’ll come across as a pleasant, optimistic person to work with. Focus on the negative, and you’ll seem misanthropic and obnoxious.

  • Interview Mistake #9: Giving misinformation.

How to Avoid It: Study the company! Review your resume! Nothing’s more embarrassing than not being able to accurately answer a question about a specific project you worked on. The first step in preparing for an interview is being an expert on yourself.

  • Interview Mistake #10: Lack of preparation.

How to Avoid It: All of the previous job interview mistakes can be summed up by this one. An interview is essentially an audition, and how many actors do you know who would show up to an audition unprepared? Do your research, make sure you’re ready, and you’re certain to ace the interview.

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