25 Common Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Have you received an invitation to interview for a job? Congratulations! According to Glassdoor, each corporate job attracts, on average, 250 resumes, but only four-to-five applicants are usually invited for an interview. With odds like this, becoming one of the few job candidates is quite an achievement.

The interview process, however, is something that makes most people anxious. To help you be less nervous and better prepared, we’ve put together this list of common interview mistakes and added some tips on how to avoid them.

Avoid These Common Job Interview Mistakes

First, let’s focus on in-person interviews, as this is the standard interview type. An in-person job interview means that you meet a hiring manager at the company’s office and discuss your credentials face to face. So, what mistakes should you avoid in this scenario?

#1 Not researching the company.

Hiring managers expect that candidates have at least some knowledge about the role and the company before coming to an interview. And if your answer to the question, “What do you know about us?” is that you haven’t heard of them, it sends a signal that you are not interested enough — or just too lazy — to do some research.

How to avoid this mistake:

Learn what you can about the company’s history, structure, branch locations, products, and values. Usually, this kind of information is easy to find on the “About Us” page on company websites. You can also go through the company’s LinkedIn and Facebook pages for information.

#2 Lack of preparation.

There are questions that you are likely to hear during almost every interview, regardless of the position you are applying for. For example:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What motivates you?
  • How do you deal with pressure?
  • What is your biggest weakness?

Being unable to answer these stock questions will not help you make a good first impression.

How to avoid this mistake:

Prepare your answers in advance and rehearse them with a friend, or at least in front of the mirror. You don’t need to learn everything by heart, as you don’t want to sound robotic. The point is to get the general idea of what to talk about so no question will catch you off guard.

#3 Appearing uninterested.

Employers want to hire people who not only have the necessary skills to do the job but are also likely to stay in a company for at least a couple of years. If a hiring manager thinks you are not interested enough in the job, you will probably not get a job offer even if you are perfectly qualified for the position.

How to avoid this mistake:

Demonstrate your interest in the industry, the company, and the job itself. Arrive on time and dress appropriately. Be ready to answer the question, “Why do you want this job?”

#4 Neglecting body language.

According to Mehrabian’s communication model, 55 percent of the information we receive comes from body language, 38 percent comes from tone of voice, and just 7 percent from the words we hear. That is why the nonverbal signals we send during the interview are so important. If you are stating that you are confident and able to manage a large team, and at the same time, you are so nervous that you can’t even maintain eye contact, a hiring manager might doubt your words.

How to avoid this mistake:

Ask a friend to give you feedback on your nonverbal communication skills. Then practice in front of the mirror and focus on avoiding any mistakes you have found. During the actual interview, don’t forget about good posture, smile, and keep eye contact.

#5 Showing up late.

Arriving late to the interview is not only irresponsible and impolite towards the hiring manager; it also suggests that you lack organization and time-management skills. Being on time for the interview is crucial regardless of what job you are trying to get.

How to avoid this mistake:

Plan your route to the company’s office in advance. Consider peak hours, commuting time, and parking options. If possible, clear your schedule before the interview. It is also a good idea to arrive about 10 minutes early, so you have enough time for possible security checks in the building or checking in at the reception desk.

#6 Arriving too early.

Hiring managers often have tight schedules. If you arrive too early, they might be busy with another candidate or just not ready to meet you. When you are too early, you are risking annoying them even before the conversation starts.

How to avoid this mistake:

If you arrive too early, take a short walk to ease your nerves and come to the building about 10 minutes before the interview is scheduled.

#7 Dressing inappropriately.

The first judgment an interviewer makes is based on how you look. Appearing at the office in ripped jeans and a t-shirt will not earn you many positive points.

How to avoid this mistake:

Research the company’s website and social media pages to determine the dress code. For example, if you are interviewing with a legal firm, you might need formal business attire, but a more casual look could be appropriate for an IT startup. When in doubt, remember that it is better to be overdressed than underdressed when meeting a potential employer for the first time. Whatever outfit you choose, make sure that your clothes are clean and ironed.

#8 Bad-mouthing previous employers or colleagues.

Even if you left your previous job on less than good terms, talking negatively about a past employer or former colleagues is a really bad idea. First, you never know whom the interviewer might be acquainted with. Second, the hiring manager might think that you are a hard person to get along with and might not be able to fit in with the team.

How to avoid this mistake:

When asked why you left your previous job, don’t provide too many details. Be diplomatic and keep it short. Rather than complaining about others, highlight any positive steps you took to deal with a difficult situation.

#9 Talking too much.

No matter what question an interviewer asks, she is expecting a straightforward answer and will not be happy if yours lasts for half an hour. Talking too much can be interpreted as you being too nervous or even dishonest.

How to avoid this mistake:

Make sure all your answers are concise and to the point. Remember that a hiring manager does not need to know your whole life story. On that note, avoid sharing too much about your personal life as well.

#10 Not asking questions.

At some point, you will be asked if you have any questions about the role and the company. And if your answer is “no,” your interviewer might get the idea that you don’t care much about the job.

How to avoid this mistake:

Prepare a list of possible questions in advance. For example:

  • How would you describe a typical day in this role?
  • How many people are on the team?
  • Whom would I be working with daily?
  • How will I be trained?
  • What is a new employee expected to accomplish during the first month on the job?
  • How does one advance in the company?

Although what questions you ask depends on what has been covered during the interview, you will be able to choose appropriate questions from your list instead of having to quickly come up with something on the spot.

#11 Asking only about money.

No one disagrees that potential earnings are an important factor when choosing a new job. However, if all questions you have are about salary and benefits, your potential employer might think that money is the only thing that motivates you.

How to avoid this mistake:

As we mentioned before, prepare a list of questions about the company’s culture, daily responsibilities, the team, and advancement opportunities. Bring up salary only after you’ve discussed all other topics.

#12 Bringing a drink or food.

Eating, drinking, or chewing gum when talking with the hiring manager looks impolite and unprofessional. During the interview, you should focus on conversation, not your coffee and muffin.

How to avoid this mistake:

Have a snack before the interview so you don’t get hungry. Drink a cup of coffee if you need a dose of caffeine. Although it is totally fine to bring a bottle of water, most likely you will be offered a glass when you arrive.

# 13 Using your phone during the interview.

Checking new messages or answering phone calls during the interview is absolutely inappropriate. It is not only rude and distracting for everyone in the room but also clearly demonstrates that you have trouble with prioritizing tasks.

How to avoid this mistake:

Before entering the office, silence your phone and put it away so you are not tempted to check messages.

#14 Forgetting that an interview is a two-way street.

Candidates often focus so much on answering all the questions correctly and presenting themselves in the best way that they forget to evaluate if the company and the role are what they want.

How to avoid this mistake:

Ask questions about the company’s culture, the team, and the position. Observe what is happening at the location. Is the atmosphere friendly? Do people look busy? Is the office noisy or quiet? Would you like to spend most of your day there?

#15 Not bringing a resume.

Hiring managers might ask for additional copies of your resume to share with other interviewers. If you don’t have them, the manager might think that you are not thoughtful or poorly prepared.

How to avoid this mistake:

Print several copies of your resume, even if a recruiter has not asked for them explicitly, and bring them to the interview just in case.

#16 Leaving without asking about the next steps.

A job interview is quite a stressful situation, and many people feel so relieved once it is over that they forget to ask what happens next in the hiring process. They leave not knowing when to expect to hear back or whom to contact if they have additional questions about the job.

How to avoid this mistake:

Before leaving the interview, take a moment to think if everything about the next steps is clear for you. If not, don’t hesitate to ask.

#17 Not following up.

Sometimes candidates think that their job is done when the interview is over. There is still one thing left to do, however, and that is sending a follow-up email. If you don’t do this, you miss the opportunity to maximize your chances of getting the job. A follow-up email helps you stand out from the other applicants and demonstrate that you are excited about the position.

How to avoid this mistake:

Send a short email within 24 hours of the interview. Thank the hiring manager for his time, state that you enjoyed learning more about the role, and let him know that he can contact you in case he has additional questions.

#18 Sharing the details on social media.

Companies usually prefer discretion when it comes to the hiring process. This means your potential employer will not be happy to see a Facebook post about what questions you’ve been asked and what tests you had to pass during the interview.

How to avoid this mistake:

There is nothing wrong with discussing your experience with a couple of close friends or family members, but avoid describing details on your social media pages.

Video Interview Mistakes

Up to now, we have been focusing on face-to-face job interviews. However, studies show that as of January 2021, 79 percent of employers incorporate video interviews in their hiring process. This brings new challenges for candidates. Here are a few more tips on how to get ready for a video interview and what mistakes to avoid.

#19 Not checking your devices beforehand.

Problems with devices have ruined many interviews. Not only can an intermittent internet connection annoy the hiring manager, but it also shows that a candidate has not prepared properly.

How to avoid this mistake:

Test all your equipment beforehand to make sure everything is working correctly. If you know that the internet connection at your home is not reliable, consider going to a local library where you can do an interview in a private room. And don’t forget to charge your laptop and wireless headphones if you are using them.

#20 Not getting familiar with the application.

Companies conduct video interviews with different tools: Google Meet, Zoom, MS Teams, Skype, etc. Stress from using an application for the first time during the interview can prevent you from making a good first impression.

How to avoid this mistake:

Download the app you will be using beforehand. Ask a friend or a family member to make a test video call with you. Doing this allows you to familiarize yourself with the necessary features.

#21 Not dressing properly.

Doing a job interview at home does not mean that you can wear your favorite pajamas. Inappropriate clothes can send the signal that you don’t care much about the opportunity.

How to avoid this mistake:

Dress as you would for an in-person interview. And even though an interviewer usually sees only the upper half of your body, don’t wear sweatpants — you might need to stand up for some reason.

#22 Interviewing in a distracting environment.

A ringing phone, a buzzing doorbell, a family member entering the room — all these distractions lower your chances of successfully passing the interview and should be avoided at all costs.

How to avoid this mistake:

Inform your housemates what time your interview will be and ask them not to interrupt you. If possible, set yourself up in a separate room where you can close the door. Also, turn off the sound on your phone and pause notifications on your computer.

#23 Having a messy background.

Another common video interview mistake is not checking what is visible in your frame. If you talk about your exceptional organizational skills, but there are piles of dirty clothes, messy bookshelves, and empty pizza boxes on the table in the background, the chances are that an interviewer will doubt your statement.

How to avoid this mistake:

Test how your space looks on the video beforehand. Clean up the room and make sure there is no clutter in the background. Remove anything that might be distracting.

#24 Not looking into the camera.

It is easy to forget that you are on the camera during a video interview. Sometimes candidates let their eyes drift away from the screen. When this happens, the hiring manager might get the impression that you are more interested in what is happening outside your window than in the conversation.

How to avoid this mistake:

Find a comfortable position that allows you to look straight into the camera and maintain eye contact throughout the entire interview. If you need to look away — to take some notes, for example — tell the interviewer about it.

#25 Not double-checking the time zone.

The worst mistake you can make when trying to get a new job is not showing up for an interview at all. With video interviews, this happens more often than you might think, and the most common reason is the candidate did not check the time zone indicated in the invitation.

How to avoid this mistake:

Always double-check the time zone. If you are unsure, ask the recruiter for clarification in advance.

We hope these tips will make the interview process less stressful for you and that you will be hired for your dream job soon. Good luck!

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Сareer accelerator that is going to help individuals get high-paying jobs, regardless of their financial capabilities and professional experience. careerist.com

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