Nobody sets out to make interview mistakes. Still, common interview mistakes can negatively affect the chances of a job offer. It’s great to know how to succeed in an interview but knowing what not to do is equally as important.
It can be tough to get an interview these days. You could compete with hundreds of other candidates for every job application and sometimes have to tackle a group interview situation. Still, after months of receiving multiple rejection letters, or no response, you finally get an interview. The role looks like your dream job. The salary is excellent; you can work remotely and feel excited for interview day.
The top 10 common interview mistakes
You’re the perfect candidate for the job, so what can possibly go wrong? As it happens, though we list 10 mistakes that can be made during an interview, we could probably double that list. Still, this guide to the most common interview mistakes will help increase your chances of a job offer.
1. Turning up late for the interview
There’s no good excuse for turning up late for an interview. Hiring managers hear some of the craziest reasons, but here are three common excuses: –
- I got lost: It’s a feeble excuse under any circumstances. If you’re motivated to get the job, travel to the interview address a few days before to know the route. The first impression is lasting, and what do you imagine the interviewer is thinking about this excuse? Something like, “if this person can’t be bothered to plan ahead, how capable are they of doing this job?”
- The traffic was terrible: Allow plenty of time ahead of the interview. If your journey estimate is one hour, allow an extra hour. You can find somewhere to get a coffee and relax before the interview.
- I forgot what time the interview was: Never use this as an excuse for being late. Firstly, don’t be late. It’s tardy and gives a poor impression. Secondly, if you don’t want the job, use this reason for being late. There isn’t a hiring manager on the planet that will employ a candidate who cannot remember the time of the interview.
2. Criticising previous employers
Even if your previous employer is the company from hell, it’s never acceptable to openly bad-mouth them. There’s no reason to discuss things like a bullying culture, micro-management, the alcoholic manager, or anything negatively regarding your previous employer.
The interviewer will likely ask why you left the company, so the best thing to do is to reframe your experience positively. For instance, you could reply that you felt it was time to move on or want to work for a company with more opportunities for growth and promotion. If possible, factor in a response that aligns with what the new company provides. For example, if your previous company didn’t offer remote working, but this position does, that’s an acceptable response.
Many candidates make this common interview mistake and ruin their chances of getting a job offer. Refraining from criticism gains better respect from the hiring manager.
3. Using your mobile phone during the interview
Using your mobile phone during an interview is never acceptable, and one of the biggest interview mistakes you can make. A U.S Pew Research study revealed that 94% of those surveyed believe using a mobile phone during a meeting is rude.
Before the interview, please turn off your phone and put it away out of sight. Do not place it on the table between you and the interviewer because it creates a psychological barrier. Even if you switch off the phone or the interviewer has their phone on the table, it gives a poor impression.
4. Inappropriate dress
Dressing appropriately for the interview is essential. Most hiring managers say that inappropriate dress can drastically reduce the chances of a job offer.
Firstly, when you have an interview date, call the hiring manager and ask about the correct dress code. After that, ensure your clothes are clean, pressed and do not smell of smoke. Try to refrain from having a cigarette before the interview. You’ve ruined your chances of getting hired if the interviewer is doggedly anti-smoking.
Secondly, personal hygiene is also essential. Take a shower, clean your teeth on the morning of the interview, and refrain from using strong-smelling aftershave or perfume. Make sure your shoes are polished, and never wear sweat pants or trainers to an interview.
Avoid wearing revealing clothing and too many accessories. Keep it simple and, for women, wear subtle make-up unless the job requires candidates with an artistic or flamboyant style. Even so, always check the dress code first.
5. Asking about salary and benefits too soon
Of course, you want to know about the salary and benefits, and the interviewer expects you to ask. Still, asking these questions early in the interview is a little rude.
Think of an interview as a story. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. Initially, the hiring manager leads the discussion and invites you to engage by asking questions. A successful interview is a conversation. Sometimes, you can request clarification and may ask a question to gather information about the position.
Usually, towards the end, the hiring manager may ask if you have any questions. Before the interview, prepare a few questions, so you are ready to factor in the things you want to know. Ask your question about salary and benefits near the end, perhaps asking about workplace culture and promotion opportunities first.
6. Failing to research the company
Attending a job interview knowing little to nothing about the job role or company is a prerequisite to failure. The more information you learn and absorb, the better the discussion flows.
Many candidates fail to do research, and it’s a big mistake. Some of the essential things to learn before attending an interview are: –
- What the company does
- When the company founded
- Success highlights
- The Founder or CEO details
- Company mission statement and values
- Company culture
- The brand voice
- The job specification
- Whether the company is stand-alone or a sub-division
- Is the company national, regional or global
- Who are their customers
- Social media channels
Suppose you’ve done your research, and the interview is with a two-year-old start-up crypto investment company operating in the UK. You could ask how the company started and if it has plans to go global. If so, ask how they would target a global market.
Study the company’s social media channels and the website and discover the brand voice. What language do they use? For instance, if they use a conversational tone throughout, use a similar tone in your interview. Use the language of the company, listen to the interviewer’s words and style and model their language.
7. Being too familiar
Establishing rapport in an interview is vital; the earlier you can achieve that, the better. However, over-familiarity can drive a wedge between you and the hiring manager.
We understand you want to be authentic and present the “real you“, but you’re not having a conversation with a friend. The person in front of you has the power of influence over whether you get hired, so the worst thing you can do is unwittingly upset the interviewer.
Firstly, consider different cultures appreciate distinct communication styles. Listen first and follow their lead. For example, never use words like mate, darling, sweetheart, love etc., such as “yes mate, I have a lot of experience in XYZ, and I’d love this job, mate”.
Though it may seem obvious, making these interview mistakes is easy if you’re nervous or starting to feel relaxed with the hiring manager.
Secondly, always be yourself, but adopt a professional attitude and speak respectfully to the hiring manager.
8. Blagging your way out of something you don’t know
Assuming you’ve secured an interview based on your experience, you’ll likely understand the majority of topics discussed. However, if the hiring manager asks you something you cannot answer, don’t try to bluff your way through an answer.
The best comeback for this tricky situation is to ask the interviewer to elaborate on the question or be honest and admit you don’t know the answer. Follow up and say that you are happy to find out the information and get back to the interviewer afterwards.
Not all hiring managers are good at their jobs. Some inexperienced interviewers may ask awkward and sometimes irrelevant questions. If a question is not about the role or is overly personal, you can politely reply that you do not wish to answer.
9. Not asking questions
Asking questions shows engagement with the hiring manager and interest in the job. If you decide you don’t want the job during the interview, it’s OK not to ask questions. Otherwise, asking questions is fundamental to showing your enthusiasm for the post.
Nervousness sometimes overcomes applicants during an interview. Still, the best thing to do is to think about what you want to know about the job and the company and create a small list of questions.
You don’t necessarily have to wait until the end of the interview to ask your questions. If you get the chance during the conversation, ask one of your questions.
An interview should always be a two-way discussion because it shows the interviewer you have good communication skills. Most companies want to hire candidates with good soft skills because it demonstrates an ability to collaborate well with others.
10. Lying on your resume
Padding your resume to make it look better can catch up with you during an interview. Never lie about your skills or qualifications because companies often check these details.
For instance, if you say you can speak three languages, suppose the hiring manager speaks one of those languages during the interview. If you’ve fabricated information, you’re now in a tricky position and 100% guaranteed not to get the job.
Your resume got you the interview, so make sure you can back up every detail.
Conclusion: The top 10 biggest interview mistakes
It’s a fantastic opportunity when you beat hundreds of applicants and get yourself an interview for the job of your dreams. You’re just a few steps away from getting the job and starting a new era in your working life.
If there’s an interview question mistake you made in the past, you now know what not to do. Avoid these 10 common interview mistakes and increase the chances of getting hired.
A bonus interview tip
After the interview, always follow up with a polite thank you email. Thank the hiring manager for their time, follow up on any questions you couldn’t answer during the interview and add any new questions you might have.
Express your interest in the job but don’t come across as desperate. Be succinct. Write a couple of paragraphs at the most. Many applicants don’t follow up, which can make a difference, especially if you’re in close contention with another applicant.
Can I ask interview questions about mistakes?
Often, candidates want to know what went wrong during an interview. Perhaps you made one of the common interview mistakes and want to put it right. Sometimes, it’s best to learn from your mistakes and move on.
Hiring managers rarely disclose reasons why they didn’t hire a candidate. However, if you wish, you can ask for feedback.
How do I build rapport with a hiring manager?
The answer to this question is beyond the scope of this article because there’s a lot to consider. Still, try to replicate the language and tone of the interviewer. For example, if you have a loud voice and the hiring manager speaks softly and slowly, try lowering your voice until you match their volume and pace.
Subtly model their body language by watching what they do. If the hiring manager has both hands on the desk, gradually do the same, but do it slowly, rather than instantly modelling the interviewer’s movements.
If the interviewer rarely smiles, refrain from grinning like an idiot throughout the interview. An unsmiling hiring manager can unnerve a candidate, which is sometimes the intention. Relax, breathe deeply, remain confident and smile where appropriate.