Easily Avoided Interview Mistakes

Published on 01 March 2010 by Jamie Mack in Interviewing


The interview process can be stressful enough, no matter what type of interview you find yourself up against, and it helps if you don’t add to your own misery by making an avoidable faux pas.  We can all probably remember an embarrassing interview moment or two, but with practice (failing to do this is actually one of the mistakes) you can improve your performance and eliminate potentially costly errors.

iStock 000000380873Small Easily Avoided Interview Mistakes

Here is a brief list of some of the most common interview mistakes and ideas on avoiding them:

  • Arriving late:  This is a simple one to avoid.  Don’t be late!  Punctuality is a basic tenet of proper interview form.
  • Dressing inappropriately:  Also another basic rule, and one that everyone should know.  One hiring manager reported a most memorable candidate who arrived in a business suit…and flip-flops.  Don’t be that individual.  Appropriate attire for an interview shouldn’t be something that you really have to think about.
  • Speaking ill of a former employer:  Saying negative things about a previous employer is a big no-no and can certainly convey the wrong impression to the interviewer.  If you must talk about a former employer and cannot be exactly positive then try to be as honest and neutral as possible.
  • Displaying a lack of interest:  This should be a no-brainer too as what happens in the interview can and should be of great interest to you and your future.
  • Arrogance:  This is a big turn-off.  You may be convinced of your ultimate greatness, but try to tone it down a bit during the interview with your potential future boss.  Play up your strengths and downplay your weaknesses.  Keep it clean and honest.
  • Answering a cell phone or texting:  This doesn’t even bear commenting on really.  One anecdote from this article tells of a candidate taking a call during an interview and having the nerve to ask the interviewer to leave his office due to the private nature of the call.
  • Not asking good questions, or no questions at all:  Your interview should be a two-way conversation.  Not asking questions about the job, about the company, or the work environment can come across as a lack of interest (see above) on your part, and that is not good.  Prepare some intelligent questions ahead of time and be ready to ask them at the right moments.
  • Vagueness:  Be as specific as possible when answering the questions asked of you during your interview as not doing so can make it seem as though you’re not truly familiar with a particular area of knowledge, ability, or situation in question.
  • Displaying little or no knowledge of the potential employer:  Mentioned in ourprevious post , you should always do some research on the company to which you are applying.  Learn about what the company does, what technologies or methods they use, and familiarize yourself with the corporate culture and what they stand for.

A little preparation and some common sense can help you to avoid these potentially game losing errors.  Be calm, be cool, and above all, be ready.  Feel free to share with us some stories of embarrassing interview mistakes you’ve made!

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