17 Things to Avoid Doing in a Job Interview

By Jamie Birt

Updated September 1, 2022 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated September 1, 2022

Published February 25, 2020

Jamie Birt is a career coach with 5+ years of experience helping job seekers navigate the job search through one-to-one coaching, webinars and events. She’s motivated by the mission to help people find fulfillment and belonging in their careers.

Related: Job Interview Mistakes: What To AVOID in an Interview

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Getting an interview for a job is an exciting experience. The job interview is an important, positive step in your job search process. Prepare effectively for your next interview by knowing what you should and should not do during the meeting.

In this article, we list 17 things not to do during your next job interview.

Why are job interviews important?

Job interviews are important because they allow you to meet with members of a company and see if the job you've applied for is a good fit. Interviews also provide the company with a chance to check your qualifications and present you with problem-solving opportunities or questions about the job.

Preparing for your interview is crucial so you can make an excellent impression and show your suitability for the position. However, there are some behaviors, questions and comments you'll want to avoid during an interview.

Related: How to Prepare for an Interview

What not to do in a job interview

Avoid these actions to help ensure you have a successful and positive interview. Don’t:

1. Be arrogant

Avoid arrogance during your interview. Displaying pride can make interviewers feel as if you are talking down to them. Instead, discuss your skills and accomplishments in connection with how they can help the company and in a straightforward, not boasting, manner.

Related: 12 Powerful Words to Use in an Interview

2. Avoid eye contact

Avoid looking down or refusing to meet the interviewer's eyes. Interviewers could misinterpret this as a sign of weakness or lying. Instead, meet the interviewer's eyes naturally as you talk. If you feel nervous, imagine you're having a conversation with a friend and look at the interviewer as you would during a casual conversation.

3. Be late

Avoid arriving late to the interview. Lateness implies that you don't care about the position and don't respect the interviewer's time. Instead, arrive a few minutes early to introduce yourself to the staff and have time to compose yourself before the interview.

Read more: How to Avoid Being Late for an Interview

4. Be too early

Avoid arriving more than 10 minutes early. Too early of an arrival could be inconvenient for the interviewer, causing them to rush through a prior commitment and come into the interview frustrated. Instead, if you arrive more than 10 minutes early, wait in your car or outside the building and review your interview documents. When appropriate, go inside and introduce yourself at the reception desk.

5. Lie

Avoid lying about your education, experience or skills. An interviewer catching you in a lie could end in the immediate termination of the interview. If the company hires you based on a lie, they might expect you to perform tasks for which you are not prepared. Instead, answer questions honestly about your qualifications for the position. Express your desire to learn new things and commitment to improving your work performance on the job.

Related: 4 Things to Do Instead of Lying On Your Resume

6. Fidget

Avoid fiddling with items on the desk or with your hands and feet. The interviewer could misinterpret fidgeting as a sign of boredom, and they might think you’re not interested in the conversation. Instead, keep your hands and legs still and avoid unnecessarily touching things on the desk or table.

7. Show a lack of accountability

Avoid blaming others for your mistakes. The interviewer may ask you to discuss a time you made a mistake at work. Don't say that you have never made a mistake or that your coworkers were the only ones at fault. Instead, take accountability for your actions. Explain what you learned from the mistake and how you would approach the situation now if you were faced with it again.

Related: Responsibility vs. Accountability: What's the Difference?

8. Check the time

Avoid looking at your watch or the clock during your interview. The interviewer could misconstrue this action as a sign that you have somewhere more important to be. Instead, focus on the interview. Make sure your schedule is clear for at least an hour after the start of the interview so you won't be late for any other commitments.

9. Answer the phone

Avoid checking or answering your phone during the interview. Dividing your attention between the interview and your phone shows a lack of self-control. Instead, turn your phone off and put it away for the duration of the interview so it does not tempt you.

10. Act desperate

Avoid saying or showing that you are desperate for the job. Extreme emotion can eliminate you as a candidate completely. Instead, keep your emotions in check and express your interest in the position appropriately.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Job Interview Etiquette

11. Appear angry

Avoid frowning, sighing or any other actions or facial expressions that could show negative emotion. These can give the interviewer an impression that you are a disagreeable person. Instead, smile and keep your tone light and positive.

12. Cross your arms

This type of body language can sometimes indicate that you are defensive or wary of the situation. If it's possible, try not to cross your arms during your interview. The interviewer will perceive that you are an open, honest person.

13. Be defensive

Avoid aggressive and defensive language. Don't argue with the interviewer. Instead, if the interviewer asks you a difficult question, take a moment to consider your answer and respond with patience.

14. Come unprepared

Avoid arriving empty-handed to the interview. The interviewer may perceive this as a lack of preparation and a lack of care about the position. Instead, bring copies of your resume and references. Also, have a paper and pen to take notes throughout the interview.

Related: 7 Items To Bring to a Job Interview

15. Look bored

Avoid looking bored or yawning during the interview. This could offend the interviewer. Instead, show you're listening to the interviewer by nodding your head, taking notes and responding to questions.

16. Be rude

Avoid rudeness or unfriendliness to company employees. The interviewer will likely ask the employees you met during your time at the company for their impression of you. Instead of being standoffish, greet everyone you encounter during your interview with kindness and a smile.

Related: 5 Tips for Building Relationships at Work

17. Eat

Avoid eating during the interview, unless the interview is specifically over lunch or dinner. Eating divides your attention and can be impolite. Instead, have a snack before the interview if you think you might be hungry. Just be sure to check yourself in a mirror before getting to the interview.

Related: Interview Red Flags 🚩 6 Things To Never Say in an Interview

Watch as we share 6 things to never say in a job interview, plus a little advice on interview body language and active listening, too.


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