10 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Next Job Interview

common interview mistakes
Created by CakeResume

1. Not having researched the company

This is one of the biggest interview mistakes many job seekers tend to make. You should already have done some basic research about the company and the role you are interested in by the time you submitted your application. 

As soon as you receive an interview invite, you should be prepared to carry out more extensive research on the company and the details of the role to ace the job interview: 

  • What services or products they offer
  • What kind of customers or clients they work with
  • What kind of work they specialize in
  • What their company culture is like

Make sure to also understand the details of the job description and the responsibilities expected for the role. You should be prepared to discuss why you are interested in joining the company and how you can contribute to the role they are recruiting for. 

2. Not having prepared for interview questions 

Ahead of your job interview, make sure to research common questions for the specific role you have applied for and general interview questions that are likely to come up. 

This is one of the worst mistakes that make a job applicant fail an interview, as it is crucial to show your interviewer that you understand what the role entails and what the company does, while demonstrating that you are a confident and reliable candidate. 

Many job seekers make a mistake by not preparing answers for potential interview questions or thinking of related examples from their past experiences. 

You can also conduct a mock interview with a close friend or a family member to practice your responses. This will help you feel and appear more confident and qualified, and in turn ace your job interview. 

Below are some common interview questions to get you started. Make sure to take a look to avoid this common interview mistake!

  • Can you tell us about yourself? 
  • Why are you interested in working for us? 
  • Why was your motivation in applying for this role? 
  • How did you hear about this job?
  • What are your greatest strengths? 
  • What do you consider your weaknesses to be?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a conflict or challenge and how you dealt with it. 
  • What motivates you? 
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? 
  • Are you willing to relocate? 

📚 Further reading: Common Interview Questions and Answers

3. Arriving late 

Just as with any other appointments, personal or business, you should never arrive late. This is possibly one of the worst interview mistakes a candidate can make, as your first impression is extremely important, especially when attending a job interview. 

Arriving late automatically sends red flags to your interviewers, as it shows signals that you do not value their time as much as your own, and can also be interpreted as you have poor time management skills and lack of attention to detail or, worse, you are unreliable.

Steer clear of this fatal interview mistake and plan to arrive around 15 minutes earlier to give yourself plenty of time; if you have time to spare before the interview, you can go through your answers again or just take some time to breathe and relax before you go into the interview. 

You can easily avoid this common interview mistake by researching directions ahead of time and any specific instructions for entering the company building. 

4. Dressing inappropriately 

Having a bad fashion sense is one thing, but dressing inappropriately for a job interview is another. Humans are visual animals, thus what you wear to an interview will definitely leave an impression on the interviewers. 

You should always play it safe to avoid this interview mistake, regardless of the dress code for the workplace. Make sure to appear clean and groomed to indicate your professionalism. If you are successful in passing your interview, your employer will provide you with a clearer dress code. 

Here are general tips for interviewees on what appropriate and inappropriate interview attires look like. Unless you have been advised to wear specific attire, these should help you avoid this common interview mistake of wearing the wrong clothes. 

✅ Appropriate: 

  • Button-up shirt or knee-length black dress/skirt with black dress shoes or flats/low heels
  • Clean, brushes and near hair, nails and facial hair 

❌ Inappropriate: 

  • Clothes that look sloppy, tight or revealing
  • Untidy and unpolished appearance and bad odor
  • Excessive or gaudy accessories, make-up, cologne or perfume

📚 Further reading:  What to Wear to Job Interviews - Full Guide [+ examples]

5. Not bringing your resume or required documents 

The interviewer should ideally have your resume and relevant documents at hand when you attend your interview; however, there is a chance that they don’t have them. 

You should hence prepare a copy of your resume for each interviewer you are expected to meet, plus some extras just in case to avoid the awkward moment that you have to tell them you don’t have your resume with you. 

By doing so, you can not only show interviewers your most up-to-date resume, but also present yourself as an organized, thoughtful and well-prepared candidate, which increases your chance of acing your job interview.  

You won’t necessarily be asked to provide interviewers with your resume, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Overlooking details like this can prove to be a fatal mistake during a job interview.

6. Talking too much 

Another common mistake made by interviewees is talking too much during a job interview. This can play a role in deciding whether you will enter the next round as getting the balance wrong with this mistake can likely make a job application fail an interview. 

There isn’t much worse for the interviewer than listening to a job seeker ramble on and on. Avoid this common job interview mistake by keeping your answers concise, focused and with relevant, crucial details. The interviewer does not need to know your entire life story or what happened at the family gathering last month. 

You should also make sure to keep the conversation professional and appropriate during the interview. No matter how welcoming or genuine your interviewer might seem, a job interview is a professional matter and not a personal one. 

7. Using your phone during the interview 

What is one thing that you should definitely not do in a job interview? Using your phone. 

You can simply leave your device on mute and stow it away or turn it off for an hour or two. The world will not stop running because you are not checking your phone! 

You can easily avoid this interview mistake by rescheduling any phone calls you may have in advance, or setting an automatic ‘not available’ message when someone tries to reach you during the interview.

Replying to messages or answering a phone call is one of the biggest interview mistakes a job seeker can make because it also sends a clear message that receiving an offer for the job is not your top priority and that you have no respect for your interviewers. 

So, regardless of how urgent the person or matter is on the other side of the phone, you should never make this mistake during an interview. Even if you accidentally forget to turn it off, resist the urge to look at your phone and steer clear of this common interview mistake. 

8. Speaking ill of former employers 

You may have had a bad experience with your previous employer or your current boss, but regardless of how terrible the person or the situation was, you should never make the mistake of speaking ill of your previous employers during an interview. 

Badmouthing your former employers will not gain you any empathy or make them look bad; in fact, it will only make you seem like a difficult person to get along with, or that you are not able to resolve conflicts faced during a workplace. 

An example of this would be when asked the question “tell me about a time you worked with someone you didn’t like” and “what was the outcome and how would you have changed it”

You might be tempted to start listing all the bad traits that person had or terrible things they did. But hold your horses. 

Avoid this interview mistake by simply describing the situation and constructive actions you took to mitigate the issue and what you took away from the experience. 

9. Displaying poor body language 

Your body language is one the first things your interviewer will take note of when you meet them. 

Avoid making the common mistake of displaying poor body language during an interview by greeting the interviewer with a firm handshake and clear eye contact, while saying something like “hi, it is very nice to meet you.” 

Once you arrive at your seat, do not slouch on the chair, cross your arms, fidget around or even sulk.

Instead, you should keep a good posture, use your hands to help convey your message and carry a smile throughout the interview to show your enthusiasm. You can also use non-verbal cues, such as nodding, to show your interviewer that you are listening. 

Refraining from this common interview mistake will largely increase your chance of succeeding in the interview. 

10. Forgetting to follow up 

Once you have completed your interview, make sure to follow up with the recruiter shortly after - usually best in the form of an email or simple LinkedIn message. 

Not following is a common interview mistake that many job seekers tend to make, as it is a step that is easily forgotten. 

By following up with your recruiter, you show that you are truly interested in the job opportunity and grateful for the time and consideration you have been given.

In the case that you don’t have the contact information of every person that interviewed you, follow up with the main contact you communicated with throughout the interview process and ask them to kindly pass it to the interviewer for you. 

📚 Further reading:  Feeling lost? Here’s how to follow up on a job application! [+Email samples]

🔑 Key Takeaways:

Now that you have taken a look through some of the most common mistakes job seekers make during an interview process, we hope that you will take note to avoid these mistakes in your next job interview. 

Most of these should be easily avoided. By taking the time to make sure you are well-prepared and understand what interview mistakes to look out for, you will stand out amongst a pool of job seekers and ace your job interview. 

CakeResume provides the best resume making tools & templates to help you create the perfect resume for your job hunt. Take your career journey to new heights - create a resume online (free download) now!

--- Originally written by Wayne Chang ---


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