8 Job Interview Mistakes You Should Avoid

Julie Shenkman
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When you interview with a prospective employer, you probably have 100 things running through your head, and this may cause you much anxiety. However, if you can focus on the most important items of the interview, then you will feel more relaxed and in control of the message you wish to send. Many people find it helpful to know what not to do in the interview in order to better understand what they should do.


In order to best prepare yourself for that all-important interview, make sure you avoid the following mistakes that could prevent you from winning that position.

1. Dressing inappropriately
Know the culture of the company. Don’t dress in business casual if many of the current employees wear more conservative clothing—you want to look like you already fit the bill.

2. Appearances that are loud, bright, excessive, or extreme
Resist the temptation to wear perfume, bright colors, or loud nail polish; cover up those tattoos. You want the interviewer to focus on your skills and accomplishments, not your appearance.

3. Being late to the interview
This mistake pretty much speaks for itself. This leaves a bad taste in any prospective employer’s mouth. If you can’t be on time for the interview, how dependable could you be as an employee? Arrive at least ten minutes before the interview begins.

4. Not asking questions
Do not sit like a bump on a log during your interview. Show interest in the company by asking the employer what his or her biggest challenges are; what the average work day for this position is like; or what the next step is following the interview. The questions you ask are indicative of your interest in the position. If you don’t ask questions, the interviewer will assume you won’t accept the job offer if it is extended.

5. Asking about salary and benefits
The appropriate time to discuss issues of compensation is when a firm offer is on the table. Don’t bring up the topic prematurely. Take the time to learn about the company and the open position. In the end, money isn’t everything. Career satisfaction comes in many forms (opportunity for growth, a collaborative team environment, etc.). Most individuals are seeking positions due to issues other than financial matters. So during the interview, concentrate on what really matters—the responsibilities of the job at hand.

6. Lack of resume or vita copies
Don’t assume that the employer already has a copy of your resume. Many employers now conduct group interviews, so you should always bring extra copies of your resume to pass around. This will demonstrate that you have foresight and consideration.

7. Being unprepared for the questions
Avoid going blank during the interview by preparing your answers in advance to some of the most common interview questions. You will appear poised and confident to the employer.

8. Dishonesty
Never, ever lie to an employer to get the position. You undermine your own strengths and abilities and the trust of the interviewer. If you can’t get the position based on current and potential skills and accomplishments, then you probably shouldn’t be applying for that particular position.


Now that you are aware of the most common interview mistakes, you can take proactive steps to ensure that your interview is the best that it can be. Review the above list before each interview and formulate your plan to make an outstanding impression.

About the Author: Certified in all three areas of the job search—Certified Interview Coach ™ (CIC), Job & Career Transition Coach (JCTC), and Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW)—Linda Matias is qualified to assist you in your career transition, whether it be a complete career makeover, interview preparation, or resume assistance. You can contact Linda directly at linda@careerstrides.com or visit www.careerstrides.com for additional career advice and to view resume samples.


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  • Charles Martin
    Charles Martin
    I must agree. ALWAYS bring extra resume copies. You would think that a company that went to the trouble and expense to set up the meeting, would at least inform the interviewers about the interviewee, but they don't!PROMPTNESS! Always show up early, because you may have to fill out forms.The decision to hire you, is often made in the first TEN SECONDS!! Keep this in mind.
  • Dean LaGrow
    Dean LaGrow
    Keeping your answers concise is key, I can't agree more. Remember it is OK to have some "quiet time" after your answer. Try and get the interviewer to talk as much as possible. Rapport is key.
  • Midian Jones
    Midian Jones
    As to honest in the interview, HR people are not tech people.  I've met a few tech people doing IT recruting, but they are rare.  So aside from being good at what you do, and being good at keeping up with what you do, you have to be good at acting they way an HR person thinks someone that does what you do should act.
  • Roswitha Swensen
    Roswitha Swensen
    Regarding Monica's comment........... too many applicaitons and resumes and still no luck.  I also applied and sent out many resumes.  I did have several interviews and made it to the final three's several times. But..... I was never hired.  I spoke to a Recruiter and she said to change my resume.Recently I changed the format of my resume. My prior resume focused too much on the company that I worked for, I used too sophisticated language, and was too vague in my job description. I kept it plain and simple with an easy to read format.  I have the job title in bold and large font, and the name of the employer in small font. Bingo. I have two interviews .........Have a professional read your resume and take their advice.  It made a difference for me.
  • Paul
    Re: 6. Resume copies.  On most of the panel interviews I have done, the panel already had copies of my resume submitted online and they had already made many notes in the margins. Therefore, some did not want an extra resume.  However, I also noticed the copies they had had lost much of the formatting and ran over to a an extra page due to the way their career site handles online resumes.  Conclusion : bring extra copies anyway and ask in advance - "would anybody like an original (or updated) copy?"
  • Sarah
    Another tip... I have been on the interviewer and interviewee side of the table.  One thing that I have been guilty of and as the interviewer have discovered to be a deal-killer... don't talk too much.  Saying the same thing over and over again with the attempt to seem like you have a lot to say is boring and irritating for the interviewer.  Be concise... it's okay if you have a short answer.
  • Chris Oginski
    Chris Oginski
    Be early, be alert, and ask questions are all great advice.  I interview and hire people and the first 10 min. of the interview are the most important.  You can't change a first impression, so practice before hand.
  • Cheryl Larsen
    Cheryl Larsen
    I cannot begin to count the websites that have my resume. Every day looking had one interview and I did everything right, cool, calm, collected. Even sent thank-you back afterwards hoping for 2nd interview. Nothing, not even a dear john we are so sorry letter. I think your lucky if a company hires you based on your ability for the job 80%/20% interview.
  • Gary Spatz
    Gary Spatz
    All potential employers I have interviewed with have all the same questions and none of your mistakes to avoid address those.
  • Monica Tabanor-Rodgers
    Monica Tabanor-Rodgers
    I take all the comments, hints etc.  I have submitted so many resumes and cover letters and have not gotten to the interview section as yet.  I am curious as to what I am doing wrong.
  • C.Thomas
    I agree with Ralph I wish the article went deeper.  I do all of these things ie: bring multiple copies of resume, prepare my answers, wear my dark color suits, don't wear perfume and still no job offers...I wish employers would just tell you the compensation in the beginning would save alot of time.  I can't say how many interviews I have been on to come find out they are paying just over minimum wage.It is exhausting, so although going on the interviews is good practice, I am tired of practicing and want to get to work!!!
  • Louis Zuardo
    Louis Zuardo
    I agree with Jennifer who posted on 4/07/09. Sometimes being honest can hurt or help you. I hate to say it, but the more interviews you go on, the more comfortable you feel. It's good practice, I mean, one would like to limit the amount of interviews that he/she get, but the key is to be persistent.
  • Ralph Shaffer
    Ralph Shaffer
    Article was fairly good - basic information - wish you had deeper recommendations.
  • Jennifer
    Concerning the the 8 Mistakes you should avoid, there should probably be a 9th one.I always went dressed correctly, had an updated resume on hand, and knew a little about the position.  The one thing that always seems to kill my hiring prospects is being too honest.  Honesty for those where it is a double edge sword normally back fires on the person looking for work.
  • Paul
    I went to a preliminary interview and during it they asked while on-site for all jobs including date (day as well as month/year) back till college (1979).  Being a secure facility I was not able to bring my electronic device containing it.    I won't make that mistake again.  Now I have crib notes from the start of time.

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