A job interview is one of the first impressions employers get of you. It’s a chance to further elaborate on your skills, experience and qualifications that are relevant to the role you’re interviewing for. By knowing interview etiquette, you can avoid common interview mistakes and increase your chances of getting hired. In this guide, we share 14 of the most common interview mistakes and what you should do instead. Pritish Kumar Halder

Job Interview Success

Job Interview Success

Why is it important to know common job interview mistakes?

It’s important to know common job interview mistakes so you can better prepare for your interview. Knowing these mistakes can help you think of strategies to show interviewers that you are taking the interview seriously and can act appropriately in professional settings. By learning what to do and how to behave during an interview, you can help employers see you as a confident and qualified candidate.

Common job interview mistakes

It is easy to fall into a defeated mental place when making an easily avoidable job interview mistake, which can be a hard state of mind to turn around. Here are common mistakes people make during interviews and what you should do instead:

  • Arriving late or too early

  • Inappropriate attire

  • Using your cellphone

  • Not doing company research

  • Losing your focus

  • Unsure of resume facts

  • Talking too much

  • Speaking poorly of previous employers

  • Not preparing for common questions

  • Focusing too much on yourself

  • Having no questions to ask

  • Asking overly personal questions

  • Poor body language

  • Neglecting to follow up

Arriving late or too early

It’s very important to arrive at your interview on time or slightly early. The earliest you should arrive is 10 or 15 minutes early so the interviewer can finish their work and feel prepared to talk to you. Arriving on time shows the interviewer that you are punctual and value their time.

Inappropriate attire

Always look professional for an interview, even if it is for a company with a casual dress code. Wearing formal business attire shows employers that you are serious about this role and have a sense of professionalism. Feel confident and prepared by choosing your outfit and ironing it well in advance.

Using your cellphone

Rather than looking at your cellphone in the waiting room, read over your resume to prepare for your interview. Before meeting the interviewer, make sure your phone is completely turned off. This can help you stay focused and free of distractions during the interview.

Not doing company research

As soon as an employer reaches out to you for an interview, you should do extensive research about the company. Learn who their clients are, what they specialize in and what their work culture looks like. Be able to discuss specific details of projects listed on their website. Prepare to answer the question, “Why are you interested in our company?”

Losing your focus

Make sure to get enough sleep and eat a nutritious meal before your interview. It’s important that you appear refreshed and focused during your interview. Make sure to listen to everything the interviewer says so you know which questions to ask them and what information you should share with them. Make an effort to appear enthusiastic about the position. Use active listening skills to show you’re interested in what the interviewer is saying.

Unsure of resume facts

Get to know the details of your resume before your interview. Know things such as prior employment, previous tasks and important dates. Bring a printed copy of your resume in a professional-looking folder, so you can read it over while you wait for your interview. You could also bring an extra copy for the interviewer in case they need one.

Talking too much

Practice answering interview questions succinctly. Only include information that is relevant to the question the interviewer asked and the role you’re interviewing for. Try to keep talking about your personal life to a minimum and keep the conversation professional. Give the interviewer a chance to talk as well and use nonverbal cues such as nodding and eye contact to show them you’re listening.

Speaking poorly of previous employers

Instead of speaking poorly of previous employers, share what you learned from your work experiences. Try to focus on the skills you developed and what you plan to do in your new role. If they ask you questions such as, “Tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult coworker” or “How do you handle working with people you disagree with?” try to find a way to answer these questions positively. This shows interviewers that you have conflict-resolution skills and can work well with others.

Not preparing for common questions

Before your interview, search for common questions for your particular job title and other general interview questions. Prepare answers for each of these questions. Having responses in mind can help you appear more confident and qualified. Practice your responses by asking a family member or friend to do a mock interview with you.

Focusing too much on yourself

Rather than solely focusing on how this role can benefit you, think of the value that you can add to the company. This shows interviewers that you are committed to their company’s mission and goals. Explain what you contributed to your previous roles and share what qualities help you collaborate with your coworkers.

Having no questions to ask

At the end of your interview, it’s likely that the interviewer asks you if you have any questions for them. Before your interview, come up with a few questions to ask the interviewer. Make sure these questions can’t be answered by their website or social media pages. When it’s time to ask your questions, make sure this information wasn’t already covered in the interview. Throughout your interview, you might even be able to make a mental note of some questions you want them to answer at the end.

Asking overly personal questions

Make sure the questions you are asking the interviewer are professional and appropriate. Save learning more personal details about the interviewer for later if you get the job. Focus on questions about the company and, if you want to ask questions about the interviewer, make sure they related to the company or the role in question. Here are some useful questions you can ask during an interview:

  • What is the company culture like here?

  • How would you describe the management style here?

  • What is your favorite aspect of this company?

  • What are the company’s most important goals right now?

  • What would my average workday look like in this role?

  • Who would I directly report to?

  • Can you tell me a little more about the team I would be working on?

Poor body language

When you walk into your interview, greet the interviewer with a firm handshake while making eye contact. Say something like, “Hello, I’m [name]. It’s very nice to meet you.” Then, once you sit down, make sure you are sitting up straight in your chair. Practice keeping a good posture before your interview. Make sure to keep regular eye contact throughout the interview and smile to show your enthusiasm about the job. As the interviewer speaks, use head nodding and other cues to show you’re listening.

Related: How To Understand and Use Body Language in the Workplace

Neglecting to follow up

After the interview, send the interviewer an email or neatly handwritten note. Thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the role. Share something specific about the role that makes you excited about this opportunity. Include something you learned during the interview to show that you were paying attention.