10 Tips To Help Prevent Job Interview Mistakes

Updated August 10, 2023

When you apply for an open position with a company, prospective employers may ask you to participate in an interview to understand your character traits, skills and attitude to work. Interviews allow an employer or interviewer to decide whether you are a suitable candidate for a vacant position.

In this article, we explain what an interview is and offer tips to help you avoid making mistakes at this point in the hiring process. 

An illustration shows two people shaking hands.

10 tips to avoid interview mistakes

Here are some tips that may help lead to a successful interview:

1. Research the company

Prepare for your interview by researching the company where you’re applying. Knowing its mission statement and company culture can ensure you’ll feel comfortable working there. You can usually find that information in the company’s “About Us” section on its website. This research helps you answer “Why do you want to work here?” questions.

You might also research competitors in the industry. During the interview, you can ask how the company sets itself apart from competitors. Search the internet for announcements about new products or changes in the industry. This will help you be better prepared for company-related questions. 

You may find common interests to establish rapport if you research the hiring manager or recruiter. If you know about their experience, you might ask about their career path. 

Related: The Complete Guide to Researching a Company 

2. Analyze job description

Make sure you have the skills and experience described in the position listing. You might write down your accomplishments that align with those requirements. You may be asked about any point, so preparing an example of your value points can provide an interviewer with detailed information.  

Related: What Are Job Requirements?

3. Be on time

Being late for an interview can be a strike against you with a hiring manager or recruiter. Unless it’s an emergency, a late arrival can be a sign of disrespect. Plan by knowing your travel route, laying out clothes the night before or making sure there’s gas in your vehicle.

If the interview is remote, ensure your equipment, like your computer or smartphone microphone and camera, is working correctly. You may need to download an application or update a platform to ensure you can connect on time and with good reception.

Related: How To Avoid Being Late for an Interview

4. Choose appropriate attire

Aim to dress professionally, even if interviewing for a company with a relaxed dress code. While you do not want to appear too formal, you should choose to dress in clothing that represents your qualifications. For most companies, conservative interview attire is a safe option. Choose clean, well-fitting clothing that evokes confidence and professionalism.

No matter the company, you should always refrain from wearing torn clothing, like ripped jeans, even if that is a style. Other clothing choices to avoid include:

  • Denim and jeans should be avoided because it appears unprofessional in most settings.

  • Graphic T-shirts, especially novelty shirts or anything with art 

  • Gym attire like sweatpants

  • Sandals or flip-flops

  • Poorly fitting clothes or shoes

  • Flashy clothes or jewelry

  • Stained or wrinkled clothing

  • Too much makeup

  • Heavy perfume or cologne

Related: How To Dress for a Job Interview

5. Be confident

An interview is an opportunity to speak confidently about your qualities and experience. However, you should avoid projecting arrogance or entitlement. Be self-assured and confident in your abilities, but remember that the interviewer should direct the conversation. 

Related: How To Appear Confident in an Interview

6. Avoid distractions

An interviewer wants your full attention. After all, this is an essential step in the hiring process. Turn your phone off and keep it in your pocket or bag. You also want to avoid distracting actions like fidgeting with your hair, chewing gum or on nails and tapping your feet. If you are sniffing or coughing, try rescheduling the interview when you feel better.

Related: How To Relax Before an Interview

7. Be truthful about skills, experience and education

Remember that anything on your resume could be a topic during an interview. Be honest, so there are no misunderstandings about your work experience or education information. With today’s technology, details are accessible to  a hiring company. False information can keep you from being hired or terminate work with a recruiter.

Related: 10 Skills You Need to Ace Your Next Interview

8. Act professionally

There are some behaviors or actions to avoid during an interview, including:

  • Using unprofessional vocabulary, such as cursing or slang

  • Slouching or poor posture

  • Trying to control the meeting

  • Discussing salary or time off too soon

  • Getting too personal

  • Speaking negatively about past employers

  • Rambling answers

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Job Interview Etiquette

9. Ask questions

Prospective employers want to know your level of interest in the role. They gauge this by asking if you have any questions. You can help make a great first impression by showing engagement through the questions you ask. Use your questions to learn about the role’s specifics, company products or even the team you might work with. The answers may also help you better understand the role and whether it’s the right fit for you. 

Related: 30+ Questions to Ask in a Job Interview (With Video Examples)

10. Say thank you or follow up

Email the interviewer as soon as possible after the first interview as a professional courtesy. Saying thank you helps the interviewer remember you while giving you another opportunity to express your interest in the role. 

If you’re no longer interested in a position, let the interviewer know as soon as possible. You might ask them to reach out if a similar or more suitable role becomes available.

Related: 4 Sample Thank You Emails for After an Interview

Related Articles

How To Make a Follow-Up Phone Call After an Interview

Explore more articles

  • Administrative Assistant vs. Executive Assistant: 4 Key Differences
  • How to Write and Send a Job Inquiry Email (With Example)
  • FAQ: What Trade Is Right For Me? (Plus 7 Jobs To Consider)
  • What Is Communications Engineering? Skills, Steps and FAQs
  • How Long Is a Seasonal Job and Can I Make It Permanent?
  • Top 21 Biology Degree Jobs
  • How To Become a Hospital CEO in 5 Steps (Plus FAQs)
  • FAQ: Do Employers Care About GPA?
  • Small Company vs. Big Company: What's the Difference?
  • 17 Jobs That Require a Degree in Computer Engineering
  • 6 Social Work Jobs You Can Get Without a Degree
  • 12 Common Jobs for Stay-at-Home Parents