Interview Mistakes You Should Avoid

March 5, 2018


Stephanie Goraczkowski

Whether you're headed to your initial interview or you've got that final interview in the bag, don't mess it all up by making these common interview mistakes. Read more on how you can wow 'em and get hired.


Being late.

Ooooh, you saw this one coming, didn't you? If you struggle with punctuality, know that you're not alone. A YouGov poll shows that 1 in 5 workers arrive late at least once per week. But guess what? The same poll shows nearly half of workers never arrive late. Yeah. Never. So, which half do you want to be a part of? (But seriously, don't be late to an interview. It's just not good form.)


Bringing your drink.

Look, we all know the importance of staying hydrated with your H20. And if you have an early interview, you're probably clutching that coffee cup pretty hard, too. It's a bit unprofessional to walk into your interview with a beverage, so leave it at home or in the car. However, if they offer you a drink, take that as a cue to their hospitality, say yes, and sip away.


Failing to dress the part.

You don't need to look like you're walking the red carpet, but dressing professionally is pretty important. Regardless of whether you'll be in scrubs all day, or your potential employer allows jeans and casual dress code, toss on some business casual attire for your interview. And before you start saying, "But why? It seems pointless!"—The way you present yourself on the outside really reflects on who you are, both personally and professionally, on the inside. Employers will take notice. Dress nicely, add a little bit of your personality into the mix, and let them see how awesome and dedicated you are!


Skipping the research.

"So what do you know about our company?" Uh oh. Did you forget some key info? Take the time to find out some important details about the place you're interviewing for, and the main players involved. Company history, mission statement, different locations, and different divisions are all located on company websites. You can also check the company's LinkedIn page, Twitter feed, Facebook page, or any other social media accounts to get a feel for the culture and coworkers. In an age of all things Google, it really couldn't be easier to get the run-down on a potential employer.


Trash talking.

"So why are you leaving your current position?" When a potential employer asks about your job history, they want to know your strengths and weaknesses, and the way you interact with others. However, they don't need the Mean Girls Burn Book version of your story. Talking badly about your former coworkers, place of employment, and bosses could make you look a little... snitchy. Of course, be honest about your current or past work (lying is no good), and if things did end on a bad note, simply saying something along the lines of, "There were some differences of opinion," is a good way to let your potential employer know there maybe was some conflict, but you're way better than that and don't need to stoop to trash-talking level.


Using your phone.

Our smartphones house everything from apps to bank cards to contacts. It may seem savvy and modern to get your phone out and take a look at sites, notes, and other interview-related material while you're chatting with a potential employer, but don't go swiping and tapping just yet. Preface your actions with a well-intentioned, "Would you mind if I showed you what I was thinking on this site? I have it bookmarked on my phone." After you're done, put it away. Don't leave your phone on the table, or glance at the time. Don't respond to dings and pings of new messages coming in. In fact, silence your phone altogether. Blatant disregard for phone etiquette makes you look super rude.



Don't over-analyze.

It's really easy to get in your own head and freak out if you think you did poorly in an interview. Just chill. Take some time to reflect on your performance, but don't dwell. Instead, write down the things you think you messed up on, and see if there is any way to fix it. For instance, if you forgot some key information, send it along with a thank you email. Something as simple as, "Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. It was great to hear about... (mention details of your interview). One thing I realized I didn't mention was... (talk about your info here)." Don't bring up tiny faults and actions like failed eye contact, or crossing your legs weird. Chances are you could be overthinking those things, and the interviewer may not have even noticed them to begin with.


Ask for another chance.

Don't give up! If you were feeling a little off during your interview, explain it to your potential employer. Employers are human. They understand that sometimes, you just have a bad day. Here are some key steps to follow when taking this approach:

  • Make a brief, simple explanation. ("I wasn't feeling well, so I wasn't very focused..." "I'm not normally late, but I had an emergency...")
  • Re-state your interest in the job. ("My lack of focus doesn't reflect how I feel about this position; I'm very excited about working with you..." "I hope this emergency doesn't reflect a lack of interest; I am looking forward to this position...")
  • Offer to meet again. ("I'd love another chance to convey just how important this position is to me. Could we meet again or discuss further on the phone?")
  • Re-state your qualifications. Remind them that you're well-positioned for this job and your work experience.


Learn from your mistakes.

I know—it's a total bummer to not get a position you were really going for. When getting the "thanks, but no thanks" message, ask your interviewer what you could've done differently. Next time you're in the hot seat, you can improve your interview game.



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