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14 Common Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Common Interview Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

What are the most common interview mistakes you should avoid at all costs? When it comes to job interviews, first impressions are vital. You should take advantage of this moment to highlight your best attributes and leave a great first impression. Thus, it’s crucial to prepare in advance to avoid situations that could cost you the job. With that in mind, let’s look at the most common interview mistakes and how you can avoid them.

14 common interview mistakes

Interviews can be nerve-wracking, and it’s important to avoid common mistakes that can hinder your chances of success. Here are 14 common interview mistakes and tips on how to avoid them:

1. Arriving late or too early

Making the wrong first impression by arriving late for an interview is not a smart idea. Therefore, most interviewers advise arriving 10-15 minutes early. You should avoid being late or arriving too early for your job interview. However, accidents do happen. So, if you’re going to be late, let the interviewer know as soon as possible to prevent wasting their time.

2. Lack of preparation 

It’s critical to prepare for an interview to arrive confident and feel prepared. Learn about the company’s history, its market position, its competitors, as well as key members. Moreover, ensure that you understand the position. Failure to do so will make you appear indifferent and lazy. 
Preparing also means planning how you’ll get to your interview and accounting for any potential delays. There are no excuses for being late for your job interview. However, if the delay is outside your control, let the interviewer know. 

3. Being unsure of your resume facts

You might be requested to fill out a job application even if you’ve submitted a resume already. So, make sure you have all the information you’ll need to fill out the application. This includes dates of previous employment, graduation dates, and contact information. 
It’s natural to be forgetful of some of your past jobs and achievements. So, before your interview, go through this information again. Take the time to review your work history if necessary. It’s a good idea to keep a copy of your resume on hand during the interview, but don’t rely on it. 

4. Waffling and rambling

Speaking excessively or rambling due to nerves can be off-putting. It’s crucial to effectively showcase your skills and experience without meandering, and take a moment to gather your thoughts before responding to questions. This will demonstrate your ability to communicate clearly and thoughtfully, leaving a positive impression on the interviewer. Remember, concise and focused responses will not only highlight your qualifications but also convey professionalism and confidence.

5. Not showcasing relevant skills

Make sure to highlight your relevant skills and experiences that align with the job requirements. When discussing your skills, provide specific details and quantify your achievements whenever possible. This helps to make your responses more impactful and demonstrates the value you can bring to the organization.

6. Having poor body language

Your body language can and will affect the interviewer’s first impression. Being shy or nervous might have a detrimental impact on your body language. For example, you might appear bashful or uninterested if you never smile and avoid eye contact. Instead of these, practice good posture, a firm handshake, and solid eye contact before the interview becomes natural.

7. Dominating the conversation

Dominating the conversation in an interview can be seen as a negative behavior and may hinder your chances of making a positive impression on the interviewer. Remember that the interview is not a sales pitch and shouldn’t become a monologue. Similarly, your questions should be relevant to the position, and you should only raise them when prompted to do so by the interviewer.

8. Not Tailoring Answers to the Role 

To tailor your answers effectively, it’s essential to review the job posting or job description prior to the interview. This will help you align your responses with the duties and requirements of the job. Additionally, anticipating potential interview questions and brainstorming a loose structure to help you answer them can significantly enhance your preparation. Visiting websites like, where candidates can submit interview questions asked at certain companies, can also provide valuable insights for tailoring your responses

9. Wearing inappropriate attire

It’s critical to appear professional and polished during a job interview. However, your attire may vary depending on the position you’re interviewing for. For example, you can wear business casual clothing to a non-professional interview, while high-level corporate positions require more professional attire. Overall, it’s important to appear well-dressed and put together regardless of the position.

Read more: Job Interview Outfits to Make a Great First Impression

10. Speaking negatively about past jobs

Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of past jobs, employers prefer candidates who can identify challenges and demonstrate how they have overcome them or learned from them. Speaking negatively may indicate a lack of problem-solving skills or a tendency to dwell on problems rather than find solutions.

11. Not paying attention

Allowing yourself to drift off during an interview is not a good idea. Although it’s a minor detail, it can appear like you are distracted and uninterested. The interviewer might question how you will stay concentrated on the job if you can’t focus during one interview. So, before an interview, make sure you’re rested, attentive, and ready to go. 
Also, try to remain attentive even if you notice your attention sliding away. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer, lean forward when speaking with them, and listen actively. 

12. Not preparing for common interview questions 

Most likely, the interviewer will ask you more than just the basics regarding where and when you worked. They will try to learn everything they need to know about you as an employee to determine whether you’re a good fit. 
Thus, allowing yourself to be caught off guard is a bad idea. Prepare for your interview by studying common interview questions and practicing answering them. Also, focus on tailoring your answers to the position. To demonstrate your abilities, think of examples of when you have overcome challenges and achieved great results.

Read more: 10 Most Common Interview Questions and Answers

13. Not asking questions

As the interview nears its conclusion, the recruiter will ask if you have any questions for them. Here, saying no is not an option. Firstly, you don’t want to miss out on a chance to get answers to your questions about the job and the company. Secondly, asking relevant, thoughtful questions demonstrates your interest in the position. You may inquire about any current projects the company is working on, future plans, or the company culture. However, avoid asking about basic topics you should have researched, as well as about job benefits. Prepare at least two or three questions beforehand, so you’ll always have a backup.

14. Forgetting to follow up

Make sure to send a thank-you email after the interview. If you don’t have everyone’s contact information, email the person you first contacted and ask them to forward it. This demonstrates that you are serious about the job and grateful for the chance to interview for it.

Read more: Thank You Email After an Interview: Best Examples

Tips to avoid common interview mistakes

Here are some key tips to help you navigate the interview process successfully:

  • Preparation is key: Take the time to thoroughly research the company and the role you are applying for. Understand the company’s culture, values, and recent developments. This will demonstrate your genuine interest in the organization and the position 
  • Professionalism matters: During the interview, maintain a professional demeanor. Avoid discussing personal topics such as your family or personal life. Remember that the interview is a professional setting, and focus on using nonverbal communication to impress your potential employer
  • Demonstrate interest: Show genuine interest in the company and the job. Be prepared to discuss why you want the job and how your skills align with the company’s needs. Avoid assuming that the job is already yours and instead focus on demonstrating why you would be a great hire
Remember, preparation, professionalism, and effective communication are key elements in navigating a successful interview experience. 

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Isabel Thottam Career Writer

Isabel Thottam

Isabel Thottam is a freelance writer and human resources professional, writer for CNBC, Business Insider, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine based in Seattle.

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