Fatal mistakes in a job interview and how to avoid them

I spent days searching through job postings and crafting the perfect resumes and cover letters. Now you have a job interview scheduled. You are just steps away from your dream job, and at that interview, you will wow them.

You may know what to do during the interview. Do you know what not to do? No matter how much you impress your interviewer in other ways, the deadliest job interview and pre-interview mistakes can kill your chances of getting hired.


Research the company beforehand, on its website and elsewhere. Read reviews about it on Glassdoor and Yelp.

Study job advertisements published by the company. You can learn a lot about the company from job descriptions and other job requirements, not just the job you’re applying for. Look for local job boards as well as large aggregation sites like Monster and Indeed.

Avoid feeling embarrassed. Check your online presence well in advance of the interview. Potential employers often perform online searches of job candidates, including their social profiles. Unprofessional screen names, posts that offend your employer, and inappropriate photos can demotivate you or knock you out of the running. Clean up your profiles.

Bring several copies of your resume to the interview – you never know who might like it. Bring your list of references neatly formatted. Bring your directions to the interview and the name and phone number of your contact person.

If you are late for a reason beyond your control, calling this person can save the interview for you. Bring your ID and anything else the interviewer asks you to bring with you.

appear separately

Your words may indicate that you are the person you are hiring, but your body language may contradict your words. Crossed arms, leaning too far back or forward, poor eye contact, distracting movements, and other body language can make you appear detached. To learn more, see Body Language Guidelines for Your Next Job Interview.

Your behavior beyond your body language also creates positive or negative impressions. Slouching in the waiting area or appearing lethargic detracts from the impression you want to make. Be poised, confident and organized from the moment you enter the reception area. Smile at the receptionist as well as at the interviewer – but don’t smile too much. Get excited. Let your behavior show that you are willing to do the job.

Not having questions to ask also indicates separation. The questions show that you have researched and are interested in the job. Specific questions about job responsibilities and company culture show interest. Don’t ask about salary or benefits; Have the interviewer ask these questions.

Complaining about your old jobs

The interviewer will likely have questions about your current and past jobs. You may be looking for a new job because you can’t stand your current job and hate your boss. But telling the interviewer that will likely eliminate you as a candidate for the job.

Keep these negative experiences to yourself. A job interview is not the place to talk about them.

Instead, be positive and focused on the future. Talk about how you are looking for new challenges and new ways to use and develop your skills. If you have to talk about work problems, talk about them as challenges and what you learned from them, without assigning blame.

For example, if your current manager has poor communication skills, talk about how you learned to ask questions and do your research to show you what to do.

act inappropriately

The interviewers are in order to assess your personality and behaviors as well as your skills and experience. Behaving inappropriately can be just as deadly to your job prospects as the other interview mistakes described here.

Getting a little personal during the interview can help or hurt you. If the interviewer brings the conversation to a personal level, finding common interests or hobbies can be a plus.

Get excited about them and use them to show that you are a good person. On the other hand, talking about medical or family problems, for example, is unprofessional. Most likely, these details will contribute to a negative view of you.

Watch your language, too. A job interview is not the right place for a department.

While meetups and first dates have a lot in common, flirting should be left to dates. It may get positive attention in other situations, but it may make the interviewer uncomfortable. Be friendly, listen, and engage in the conversation on a professional level.

Not defining the path forward

The end of the interview is the beginning of the next steps. Neglect these steps or take the wrong steps, and that job you had could almost be gone.

When the interview is over, ask the interviewer about the time frame for employment. Also ask the interviewer for their business card, and send a handwritten thank you note the next day.

Handwritten notes are not uncommon, which makes writing them a great way to stand out. If your handwriting is bad, write the note instead but sign it yourself. Avoid generic remarks. Use the name of the interviewer and mention the specific interview.

Later, a follow-up call to show that you’re still interested can help tip the scales in your favor. Don’t call more than once, even if you had to leave a message the first time. Too many calls can make you seem like a nuisance. As with all steps, be professional.