Most Common Job Interview Mistakes to Avoid
If you have applied for a job in the past, you probably know that it’s not that easy to ace a job interview. Being invited to a job interview itself is already an achievement. So, you got the invite, and a job interview is scheduled, way to go! You obviously want to perform as well as possible, and it’s important that you know up front what you would like to say and do to get ready. However, just like knowing what to do is important, knowing what not to do is just as much. Some job interview mistakes are easy to make, but also easy to avoid. At least, if you know what you should and what you should not do and say during a job interview.
Everybody with a professional career has had at some point in time a job interview that did not fully go the way they wanted. This even goes for the most bright and suitable job candidates. It’s up to you to show the best professional version of you during the job interview.
Below we summed up 15 common job interview mistakes that you should avoid. Nail your next job interview and make sure you don’t mess up by making one of these mistakes.
Mistakes to avoid
The biggest mistake you can make during a job interview is demonstrating a lack of interest in the position. To be clear, if you’re uninterested in the job, why would the interviewer show interest in hiring you for the position? It’s your task to do your homework, and be able to demonstrate why you want the job, tell what you know about the company and ask questions back.
Also, show up well dressed according to the company culture standards, turn off your phone, and fully focus on the interview. This is your moment to shine.
Showing up unprepared
Preparation is key, period. Showing up unprepared is similar to demonstrating no real interest in the job.
Preparing yourself for your job interview means:
- Analyzing the job description and being able to explain how you match it
- Researching the company
- Knowing how to answer standard job interview questions
- Researching the interviewers
- Wearing suitable attire and showing up on time
Being too nervous
Being a bit nervous is normal, and it’s nothing you should worry about. However, if you’re nervous up until the point that you start talking really fast or can’t provide logical answers to the interviewers, than this might be a problem. You should always try to present yourself confidently, without being cocky. Demonstrate that you can work under pressure and still perform.
Being too desperate or too cocky
Besides being too nervous, is coming across as very desperate to get the job, or too cocky as if you already got it, not the way to go. Both are extremes that should be avoided even if a lot is depending on getting this job for you. Therefore, stop the nervous chatter and suck it up. Prepare as well as possible, and you will be able to display a confident and professional image of yourself during the interview.
Being too cocky won’t get you anywhere in a job interview. The interviewer or recruiter probably got some other candidates coming is as well, and if not, they will not hire you if you’re not the right fit for the job – even if you’re the only candidate. Displaying cocky behavior during a job interview as if you already got the job will narrow your chances of actually making it to the next round or getting hired in general. Nobody wants a know-it-all in their team. Knowing when and when not to talk is important; understand your position as a candidate in a job interview.
Using too many negative keywords
A golden rule for job interviews is to stay positive and display a positive vibe. Breaking this rule might be the reason that you’re not getting an offer or even a follow-up interview. If you leave a negative impression about yourself, the hiring manager will probably not be that interested in hiring you. Think about it, would you, yourself, rather work with someone who has a positive attitude towards things or someone negative?
It’s up to you to show during the job interview that you have learned and developed throughout your career and being able to provide information on how and why you made certain decisions. Don’t dwell too long on the negatives, and keep focusing on the positive points.
Failing to sell yourself or selling yourself too aggressive
Both ends of the spectrum are not the way to go. If you’re too humble and not too confident about your qualifications and skills, the interviewer will probably not remember you out of a pool of candidates. Make sure you are able to substantiate the career decisions you have made, the goals you achieved, and the skills you have acquired.
However, you should not go overboard and brag to the point of (almost) arrogance. The same goes for trying to dictate and dominate the interview. Even though you should steer towards having a conversation rather than a ‘Q&A’ session, the interviewer should stay in the lead. Don’t take over the interview and come across as some kind of control freak. This will not help you get the job.
Asking wrong or no questions
There are no such things as wrong questions; however, asking some questions will leave the interviewers questioning your preparation. For instance, if you ask questions about the position that are already described in the job description. Another example is asking a question about something that has already been said during the interview. While these are no real ‘interview killers,’ it’s not how you want to portray yourself during a job interview. You want to display yourself as someone who understands what is asked and can describe how you can contribute to the organization and the team.
Questions that can be classified as ‘interview killers’ are questions that you ask during the first interview regarding days off, vacation, benefits, bonuses, and your salary. Usually, these kinds of questions are not received well. The first interview is usually about getting to know each other and see if there is a match for the position and with the company. Asking such questions can give the interviewer an indication that you are more interested in personal gain and benefits that the job that you applied for.
Asking no questions at all could ruin your chances of progressing to the next round or getting an offer. Ask questions about the job that are not known to you yet. You should ask what an average day in the office and team looks like. Show interest in the company, the position, and the team.
Poor communication skills
Communication skills are verbal as well as non-verbal. This means the way that you speak or give answers is not sufficient, but your body language can play a large part in displaying poor communication skills too. Therefore, poor communication skills during the interview could cost you the job. Especially if the position that you applied for regards to interacting with clients, customers, and other employees on a daily basis.
Beware of the tone you’re using during the interview. When a question is asked, you should be able to articulate yourself well. This means that you should speak clearly and understandable. You can practice this by recording your voice when practicing answers to common job interview questions. Also, when practicing answers, try to get to the point and be concise. Just answer the question that is asked and avoid a situation in which you start rambling to the point of no return.
When rehearsing your interview, focus on keeping a good posture and making eye contact with the person your practicing with. If you go, the actual interview put this into practice. Whenever you’re introduced to someone make eye contact en give a firm handshake.
Wearing the wrong outfit
Not showing up dressed according to the dress code of the company is a very bad start to a job interview. It could also decrease your chances because interviewers might take it as that you’re not able to do your research or make an educated guess on what to wear to their company interview. Needless to say, when you’re not dressed appropriately is a common interview mistake that could cost you the job.
It’s important that you understand the company culture before the interview. Do they wear casual clothes such as t-shirts or is everybody wearing a suit? Check out the company website and social media profiles to see if you can find any pictures of employees and events. This way, you will be able to get a clearer image of the company culture and dress code.
Not being punctual
This is basically failing to prepare for your job interview. There is no reason to be late and keep your interviewers waiting. Before the interview, you should have figured out how to get to the interview location on time.
Always try to arrive approximately 10 minutes early. This is a professional way of showing the company that you’re well organized, reliable, and prepared for the interview that’s coming up. Also, it gives you some time to get yourself together and catch your breath, use the restroom if needed, and mentally prepare for the upcoming conversation.
Trash talking your past managers/employers
Being negative in general, will not get you where you want to be, as discussed earlier in this blog. The same goes for being negative about your past manager or employer. Even though you might be qualified to do the job and possess the right skill set; you can ruin it all by bad mouthing your past employer.
There’s a large chance that the interviewer will think about what you will say about their company in the future if something happens that you did not like. Furthermore, companies expect you to be diplomatic and discrete when it comes to professional conversations. If you cannot do this, you’re probably not the candidate that they’re looking for. Of course, you will probably have some negative experiences in some work environments, but it’s the way how you verbalize this that will show your personality and true character, which is either positive or negative.
Getting too friendly/personal
Great that you’re trying to establish a connection with the interviewer, however, keep your focus and don’t get too friendly. Professional behavior throughout the interview is the way to go. Of course, you can show a part of your personality and personal life to show that you’re friendly and approachable, but don’t go overboard.
Getting too personal and crossing the line of telling something appropriate can be a reason for a company not to invite you to a follow-up interview or make you an offer. You should always remember that you don’t know how the person across the table will react to your story about your crazy weekend or vacation. The same goes for telling any personal matters that regard relationship/family problems, money issues etcetera. This is not the moment to bring this up.
Poor body language
First impressions are the most important. Interviewers especially watch your body language if your applying for a position that regards interaction with colleagues and clients at all levels. They will assess your professional communication skills during the in-person interview. Just remember, communication goes beyond just using words in a job interview. Sitting with your arms crossed or making yourself small shows lack of interest and confidence. Needless to say, this is not what you want to project.
During the interview, you should keep an interested expression while smiling now and then. Furthermore, a good posture and sitting up straight is key. Try to remain calm even though you might have all the right answers at the right moment. Maintain eye contact throughout the interview and just try to keep the vibe of the interview positive.
Sharing too much information
A common mistake is talking too much during an interview or sharing too much information. Effective communication is key during a job interview, and you should know your answers to standard job interview questions. When a question is asked to formulate your answers according to the STAR-method (if applicable) and keep your answers to the point and concise.
Not following up
If at the end of the interview, the interviewer has not brought up any information about what you should expect next in the hiring process, feel free to bring this up. It shows that you’re really interested, but it also gives you more information on what you can expect and what’s required.
After the interview, you can always follow-up yourself by sending a thank you note to the interviewers in which you reiterate your interests in the company and the specific position.
Job Interview Topics – Common Job Interview Questions & Answers
Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!
- Career Change
- Career Goals
- Conflict Resolution
- Creative Thinking
- Cultural Fit
- Customer Service
- Growth Potential
- Honesty & Integrity
- Job Satisfaction
- Entry-Level & No experience
- Prioritization & Time Management
- Situational & Scenario-based
- Stress Management
- Telephone Interview
- Work Ethic