13 of the Biggest Job Interview Mistakes


Biggest Job Interview Mistakes

You’re nervous. You’re stressed. You’re sweating. Ahh, these are all signs of a job seeker who is about to go into an interview. And with good reason: there are a myriad of ways that a job interview can go from good to bad, but there are also many ways to avoid that!

No matter what industry you’re in, you’ll want to avoid these 13 job interview mistakes. Steer clear of these errors to ace your interview!

13 of the Biggest Job Interview Mistakes

1. Not Researching the Company

In order to avoid overthinking how you’re going to answer the questions during your job interview, you decide that you’re just going to wing it. But going into an interview blind is never advisable.

If you don’t know what the organization stands for, its company culture, and what its operations are about, you won’t be able to answer questions relating to those topics during the interview. Always research every company before you go in for the interview. This can help get you through to the next round of interviews.

2. Arriving Late or Too Early

It’s no secret that being late to an interview can ruin it. The same goes for being too early, which can be a frustrating job interview mistake for interviewers. If you arrive a half hour early to an interview, great, but don’t check in or announce your presence until about 10 or 15 minutes prior to your scheduled time (unless the employer asked you otherwise). Doing so might make you appear pushy and may cause the hiring manager to feel rushed to start your interview.

If you know you’re running late, it’s a good idea to call ahead to let the interviewers know, apologize, and see if they’d like to reschedule. Be humble, but don’t apologize so much that you sound whiny. Chances are they’ve been late for something in their lives, too, so they’ll probably be understanding.

3. Dressing Inappropriately

Professional attire for the interview that matches the atmosphere, as well as the climate, is important. If the company has a business casual culture, avoid wearing a suit.

To get a sense of what the company’s vibe is like, visit its social media channels. Are the company photos full of employees dressed in button-down suits, or are they dressed in jeans and tees? Before you decide to dress down for your interview, keep in mind that no matter how lax the company’s dress code is, you should still wear some version of business casual clothing for your interview.

4. Lying

In an effort to position yourself as the candidate to hire, you told a slightly exaggerated version of the truth during your job interview. (Okay, you lied.) While it’s understandable to want to fudge an answer in an effort to impress the hiring manager, lying can do serious damage to not only your chances of getting this job, but your professional reputation as a whole.

Word can spread throughout your industry that you lied during an interview, and can impede your chances of getting hired in the future. So stick to telling the truth during your interview—you’ll be better off in the long run for it.

5. Not Being Genuine

When employers are conducting interviews, they’re looking to not just find out if you can do the job, but they’re also trying to discover who you are as a person, too. That’s why it’s important to be as genuine as possible during your interview.

Faking everything about who you are is a good way to not make it further in the interview process. Keep in mind that employers have likely researched you online, and if you act completely different in person than you seem online, it’ll raise a red flag.

6. Acting Superior

This cringeworthy job interview mistake can show a serious lack of self-awareness and, frankly, likability. Showing a desire to learn, even if you’re many years into your career, will look better on you than a “I know everything” attitude.

We’ve all been around people who do this—don’t be one of them.

7. Being Negative

Was the commute to the interview brutal? Did it feel like the world was working against you this morning? Keep it to yourself. Even joking about how bad your day is going is not a good way to start an interview. Regardless of how much truth there might be in your complaints, it will not impress the interviewer and may put them in an awkward situation.

8. Leaving Your Phone On

During a job interview, you want your interviewer to feel like all of your attention is solely focused on them. Thing is, you can’t do that if your cell is buzzing away, or worse, ringing/dinging/whistling at you.

Once you’re called into your interview, make sure to shut your phone off. Even having a phone on vibrate can be disturbing (and embarrassing) if the room is quiet enough. It can be distracting to both you and your potential employer, and is a big job interview no-no.

9. Badmouthing an Employer

Sure, your previous employer might have made your workdays a misery. But badmouthing prior employers (even if you’re right) is a very wrong thing to do. It often has the opposite effect intended—making you look worse than your employer.

And keep in mind that if you’re job searching in the same field, there is a chance that your prospective employer and former one might know each other. So if you’re asked why you left your last job, cite other excuses (such as the lack of growth in your job, or your desire to work for this particular company), and skip the badmouthing altogether.

10. Not Selling Yourself

As we already said, no one likes a braggart, but there is something to be said for being able to sell yourself during a job interview. This means knowing what your strengths are and how they can tie into the requirements of the role.

Essentially, you want to make the case for why you’re the best person for the job to a potential employer, so be honest about your accomplishments by backing them up with facts and figures to support your claims.

11. Focusing on the Benefits

You may have visions of unlimited vacation days and a flexible schedule dancing in your head, but keep the excitement to yourself. Even if you’re interviewing with a company for a remote job, you can’t make that the major reason why you want the position (even if it is).

Mention the great parts of the job and the company—and what you can bring to the role if hired—and avoid talking about the work flexibility aspect of the position, since that can be a turn-off to a potential employer.

12. Not Asking Good Questions

Asking no questions at all or asking only basic questions such as “What’s a typical day like?” won’t win you any points. Absolutely ask questions at the end of the interview. And dig a little deeper to ask questions that pertain directly the role or the company.

For example, “What do you as a manager define as success for this role?” and “How do you see the team growing over the next year?” are more specific questions that show you’re thoughtful and have done some company research.

13. Forgetting to Follow Up

Many job seekers make the mistake of finishing the job interview by saying thanks—and never speaking to the person again. One of the signs of a successful job seeker is that they follow up after a job interview.

This shows that you’re interested—and if you happened to flub a question during the job interview, a chance to correct your error!

Ace Your Next Job Interview

There are a lot of ways to avoid these common job interview mistakes. No matter how nervous you might be, pay close attention to your behavior and do whatever you can to make the best impression possible.

If you’re a FlexJobs member, consider meeting with one of our in-house career coaching experts. They will partner with you to offer advice, and useful interviewing tips and tricks.


Jennifer Parris contributed to this post. 

Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com

Originally published on April 21, 2014 and previously updated on November 20, 2018. 

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Jessica Howington, FlexJobs Content Manager

Jessica Howington is a prior stay at home mom with a background in education and healthcare. As a Content Manager for the award-winning site FlexJobs , she strives to support those in search of flexible employment opportunities by providing job…Read More >

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