Top 10 Interview Mistakes

By Steve p Brady

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One of the most stressful aspects of looking for work or moving up the corporate ladder is going through the interview process. Resume writing is complex and time consuming, but if you need to, you can hire someone else to do it for you. Reading through classifieds and job boards can be mind-numbing, but it is doable. Networking? Yes, you may need to try new avenues like social media, but again, with a little work and a little help, just about anyone can do it. But when it comes to interviewing, you are on your own. It is put-up-or-shut-up time.

Even if you are prepared you could still fall into the trap of committing one of the top 10 interview mistakes listed here. Forewarned is forearmed.

1. Dressing inappropriately: I am not just talking about revealing clothing either. Too often I will hear of candidates who show up at interviews under dressed compared to those doing the interview. This should never happen. Solution: When you are asked to come in for an interview, ask about the company or firm dress code. Then plan to slightly overdress from there.

2. Showing up late: Yes, this would seem like a no brainer, but it happens more often than you would think. Solution: Google Maps with street view. Then drive there the day before to ensure you don’t get lost.

3. Beverages: Just don’t bring them. You can live without water or coffee for a half hour. 

4. Cell phone interruptions: There is  no greater interview killer than a ringing cell phone, or worse, a job seeker who excuses himself to answer it. (Yes, this does happen). Solution: Turn the phone off; do not set it to vibrate or turn the volume down. Turn. It. Off.

5. Not doing basic homework: What I mean by this is not knowing some basic facts about the company you are interviewing for. In the information age there is really no excuse for this. Solution: Spend 30 minutes online and read up on your intended employer before meeting him. In reality this step should be done prior to sending in your resume. After all, each resume should be tailored to each employer.

6. Zoning out: It should go without saying that you should pay attention during your interview. However, if you have over prepared you may be so concerned with keeping your memorized answers and sample questions in your head that you miss something your interviewer says. Solution: Takes notes. You don’t need to take dictation during your interview, but if you make a conscious effort to jot things down you will stay focused on what is being said.

7. Talking too much: Of all the interview mistakes listed here, I tend to think this is the most forgivable one. Some people talk a lot when they get nervous, and interviews are clearly nerve inducing situations. However, if you have this tendency, you want to do what you can to slow down. Solution: Have questions prepared ahead of time. When you catch yourself blabbering on, ask something. Give the other person a chance to speak.

8. Not being ready for the Q and A: A lot of job seekers seem to think an interview is just a session for them to expound on their resume. It is not. For the most part, your resume has already been read and digested. The interviewer is moving on. He will ask you questions that pertain to his company and how you respond to those questions is what interests him most. SolutionPreparation. Plan ahead of time what the most typical questions will be. Research online, ask colleagues, brainstorm on your own. You won’t guess exactly the right questions,but you’ll certainly be in the ballpark, and this will prepare you to think on your feet when the time comes. 

9. Complaining: No one likes a whiner, especially during the interview process. Specifically, a future employer doesn’t want to hear about your horrible previous boss, or how underappreciated you were at your last job. Solution: Just don’t do it. Period.

10. T.M.I.: Too Much Information is never going to help you in the interview. A little personality can be helpful- Does the company have a softball team? Were you a 300 hitter in high school? Share that nugget of info. However, getting too personal is a huge turnoff- Just get out of a messy relationship? Don’t share, they don’t care.

If you can avoid these common mistakes you’ll be well on your way to a solid job interview.


Steve P Brady has over 10 years experience resume writing and publishes a weekly newsletter on career development for teachers.

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