Interviewing

20 Common Interview Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

February 23, 2021

Many people prepare for interviews by researching the company they're interviewing with and updating their resume and list of references. However, there are some interview faux pas that are all too common. When preparing for your next job interview, consider frequent interview mistakes to avoid. In this article, we explain why interviews are important and provide 20 interview mistakes to avoid.

Related: Last-Minute Interview Tips

Why is a job interview important?

A job interview is an opportunity for the hiring manager to assess the qualifications, skills and fit of an applicant and for the interviewee to determine if they want the position. Often, interviews are comprised of a conversation with specific questions and answers pertaining to the job and the company, but some interviews also require testing or a skills demonstration. Adequate preparation beforehand and appropriate demeanor during the interview are of paramount importance for the most positive interviewing experience possible.

Related: 13 Tips for a Successful Interview

Common job interview mistakes to avoid

When preparing for your next interview, avoid making these prevailing errors. Instead, consider ways to make an excellent first impression and leave the interview with satisfaction in your performance:

  1. Dressing inappropriately
  2. Neglecting hygiene
  3. Getting to the interview late
  4. Arriving too early
  5. Eating or drinking during the interview
  6. Checking your phone
  7. Knowing nothing about the job or company
  8. Lying on your resume
  9. Losing focus during the interview
  10. Talking too much
  11. Providing unresearched answers
  12. Speaking negatively about past jobs
  13. Lacking enthusiasm
  14. Forgetting your resume
  15. Not asking questions
  16. Discussing personal topics
  17. Following up inappropriately
  18. Displaying negative body language
  19. Acting rudely
  20. Posting on social media

Related: 5 Tips for Staying Positive During an Interview

1. Dressing inappropriately

Avoid dressing informally for a job interview. More than likely, jeans and t-shirts are not the right outfit for a job interview. Instead, consider a suit or dress pants with a crisp button-down shirt or sweater. When in doubt, you can always ask the hiring manager what the dress code is for the workplace and use that to guide your interview outfit choice.

2. Neglecting hygiene

Showing up to your job interview with messy hair or a bit of your lunch on your shirt won't send a good first impression. Instead, take the time to style your hair and ensure your clothes and accessories are clean and your overall appearance is neat.

3. Getting to the interview late

Arriving late to your job interview shows that you don't manage your time well and don't have a great sense of priorities. Instead, ensure that you leave yourself plenty of time to get to your interview in case there's traffic or some other delay.

4. Arriving too early

Avoid arriving too early for your interview. It could annoy the hiring manager who may not be ready to meet with you when you arrive. Instead, wait to enter the building until about 10 minutes before your interview. That way, you'll have time to get to the interview space but won't put undue pressure on the staff.

5. Eating or drinking during the interview

You should avoid eating during an interview, even if you're hungry. The hiring manager might think that you care more about your lunch than you care about the position. Instead, eat a snack before you go into the interview to keep you satisfied until your next meal. The same is true for liquids. Have a drink of water before your interview, but keep your bottle in your bag or briefcase during the interview itself.

6. Checking your phone

Answering your phone, scrolling social media or responding to text messages during an interview should absolutely be avoided. Instead, turn your phone off or put it on do not disturb for the course of the interview. Keep it out of sight so you're not tempted to check your messages.

7. Knowing nothing about the job or company

It's encouraged to have some questions about the company or position during your interview. However, you should perform some research before arriving to show you're able to use your resources and self-direct. Instead of coming into the interview with no knowledge, learn what you can about the company, position and hiring manager.

8. Lying on your resume

It might be tempting to embellish some of the bullet points on your resume, but this tactic is dishonest. Instead, take the time to write truthful, accurate and eye-catching bullet points about your past job experience, skills and qualifications.

9. Losing focus during the interview

Everyone loses focus occasionally, but during a job interview, it's important to stay fully engaged in the conversation. Instead of drifting off while the interviewer talks, focus on what they're saying and respond with active listening like sounds of acknowledgment, eye contact and positive facial expressions.

10. Talking too much

Avoid monopolizing the conversation by doing the majority of the talking. At its best, an interview should be an equal conversation between the hiring manager and applicant. Instead of continuously talking to fill any silence, ask questions of the hiring manager or look to them to guide the conversation.

11. Providing unresearched answers

You might be tempted to make up an answer to a question you don't know during your interview. Instead of providing an inaccurate answer, prepare for possible interview questions ahead of time by researching common interview questions for your industry and position.

12. Speaking negatively about past jobs

Some of your past jobs may not have been great experiences. Despite this, stay positive while discussing past positions and employers. Speaking negatively about them might lead the interviewer to believe that you're a hard person to get along with.

13. Lacking enthusiasm

Low energy and a lack of enthusiasm communicate to the hiring manager that you're not interested in the job or company. Instead, keep your energy level high and show that you want to know more about the job and the business, and you are interested in your potential role.

14. Forgetting your resume

Many hiring managers ask for additional copies of your resume to share with colleagues during or after your interview. Be sure to bring extra copies with you in case they ask for it. This shows you're organized and think ahead.

15. Not asking questions

Arriving to the interview with no questions shows the hiring manager that you have done little to no research or don't care to learn about the position or company. Instead, prepare a few questions to ask during the course of your interview or at the end when asked.

16. Discussing personal topics

Talking briefly about your family or hobbies if asked by the hiring manager is fine. Discussing your prescription medications or personal issues is inappropriate. Likewise, don't ask the interviewer about personal topics during your job interview.

17. Following up inappropriately

Neglecting to follow up or following up with too much fervor can negatively influence a hiring manager. Instead, send a thank you email immediately after the interview and an additional follow up a week or so later if you haven't heard back.

18. Displaying negative body language

Crossed arms, a clenched jaw and refusal to make eye contact all signal dishonesty and discomfort. Instead, keep your arms open, smile naturally and make eye contact with the interviewer when speaking with them to show you're an honest and likable person.

19. Acting rudely

Rude behavior to the hiring manager or any other member of the staff will reflect poorly on you as a candidate and as a person. Instead, treat everyone you encounter during your interview with kindness and respect.

20. Posting on social media

Avoid posting about your job interview on social media. Many companies prefer their candidates to show discretion, particularly until they've made a hiring decision. Instead, share your interview with trustworthy close friends and family members if you want, but keep any discussion of the company off of social media until you know if you've been selected for the job.

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