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Biggest Mistakes in the Job Interview Process

A job interview is crucial in the overall recruiting process. It helps an employer understand whether a candidate is ideal for a job and vice versa. Interviewing can be an anxiety-inducing experience for job candidates. More often than not, this anxiety can cause candidates to make avoidable mistakes before, during and after interviews. But fear not…we have you covered! Read below to avoid these common interview mistakes. 

Being Late to an Interview

Not being punctual is a red flag for several reasons. Firstly, it can be seen as disrespectful and that you value your own time over the time of the hiring manager / interviewer. Secondly, it shows that you might not have great time management skills (which is needed for most jobs these days). Companies don’t want to hire unpredictable employees so don’t give them a reason to doubt you before your interview even starts.

Two tips for arriving on time:

Failing to Research The Company and/or Role

Hiring managers want to know you’ve done your research and you’re interested in their company for a reason. Insufficient information about your potential employer is one of the biggest mistakes in job interviews. So make sure to do research and have a good reason for “why” you want this job as well as some questions prepared.

Being Unprepared for Basic Questions

You should have a general idea of the questions that will be asked in an interview. And thus, you should prepare for how you will answer these questions. If you can’t answer simple questions such as “why are you interested in this role?” or “why would you be a good fit for this role?”, you likely won’t get the role. See this blog post for the 10 top most common interview questions.

Weary Appearance or Looking Bored

You’ll want to avoid looking exhausted and/or yawning during an interview. You want to appear interested and engaged throughout the interview. Using your cell phone, keeping an eye on the clock or looking out the window can reflect poorly on your candidacy. A good tactic to stay alert and focused on the conversation is by taking notes. Do your best to stay focused while bringing a positive attitude and high energy. 

Lack of Care or Hygiene

You don’t need to look as sharp as Ryan Gosling in “Crazy Stupid Love”, but you’ll want to make a professional impression. To the extent possible, avoid wearing dirty, stained or worn-out clothing. Try to check your physical appearance in the mirror before walking in (ie - remove food from your teeth). 

Inappropriate Clothing

You could give a poor impression of yourself if you wear inappropriate clothing. Avoid this job interview mistake and adapt your clothing to your (future) workplace. In a conservative business climate, appearances matter, while it isn’t as important in other environments. For example, attire for a summer job interview or a startup job interview will be less formal, but it does make sense to “dress your best” for the interview, regardless of the dress code at the organization.

Bad Manners or Body Language

Body language, like facial expressions, voice tone, and posture, can reveal a lot. Those who straddle their chairs, fail to make eye contact, fail to smile, cross their arms over their chest, sigh audibly in frustration, or roll their eyes might not be well received by their interviewer. Your body language and manners should reflect your interest in the role. 

Last Minute Scheduling Conflict or Excuse

Employers can be hesitant if a candidate asks to reschedule the interview at the last minute with one of the common excuses: “my car broke down”, “I got a flat tire” or “my dog is sick”. If you need to reschedule an interview, do it as early as possible. 

Overly Casual Greeting or Demeanor

Despite your excitement, an impolite greeting or overly casual demeanor can be misconstrued as unprofessional. This is one of the most common interview mistakes complained about by supervisors. Make sure you have good manners.

Senseless Chit Chat

Be aware of the meaning and weight of your words and think for a moment before you answer. Meaningless small talk comes across as unprofessional and demonstrates an inability to concentrate on what's important. Recruiters may ask you several in-depth questions in an interview to assess your overall ability and qualifications. If you provide standard, unappealing, or even exaggerated answers to the interviewers, your chances to ace the interview may fall dramatically.

Badmouthing your Previous Employer

Right or wrong, the convention is that you should not badmouth a former employer in a job interview unless there are extremely extenuating circumstances (something like racial discrimination).

You should avoid badmouthing your previous employer because it will raise several questions in the interviewer’s mind. Instead, focus on what you’re looking for next and what’s important to you in your next job. 

Overrating of your own Abilities

Excessive ego is a red flag. Avoid this inappropriate interview behavior and provide advantageous yet objective information about yourself. For example, when going over a major accomplishment, make sure to give kudos to the rest of the team that supported your success. 

Being Too Desperate

A desperate jobseeker can either (1) turn off a potential employer or (2) attract the wrong kind of manager. Most people want to get the process of interviewing over and land a great job, but be mindful of expressing desperation during the conversation. Showing distress is another critical job interview blunder to avoid.

Asking Bad Questions with Obvious Answers

You always want to have a couple questions ready for your interview, but don’t ask a question that is overly obvious or negative. For instance, don’t ask about something that can be found on the company website or by doing some basic research (ie - “where is the office located?”). This mistake could show a lack of interest, preparation or intelligence.

In Conclusion...

The interview process can be extremely difficult and nerve-wracking. Job candidates often make mistakes before and during the interview that makes hiring managers question their trustworthiness and doubt the candidate. It is important to learn about these mistakes so you can avoid them in your own interviews. If you want to read more tips about how to ace your next interview, here is a great resource

Hope this helps and good luck out there!