The 10 mistakes sure to sabotage any job interview

Here's what not to do in a job interview! 

1. Showing up late

This should go without saying. Showing up late shows not only a lack of punctuality but also carelessness. Plan ahead when going to an interview. If you’re driving, leave early in case of traffic, if you’re relying on public transport, take the earlier train or bus in case of delays. Aim to be ten minutes early, this doesn’t pressure the hiring manager too much, but it shows you are interested, prepared and punctual! Even if you are earlier than that, you can grab a coffee or drink of your choice at a café nearby and gather yourself before walking into the office or building. Though don’t bring in the takeaway cup – keep it professional. And if you are planning to have a coffee, keep mints on you to ward away coffee breath.

2. Leaving your mobile on

Another no-brainer. If your phone rings or buzzes in the middle of an interview it breaks the flow and distracts everybody in the room. It also comes across as unprepared and possibly rude. Most people say that keeping it on silent is fine, and maybe it is but sometimes that vibration still sounds from the bottom of your bag or pocket. It’s safest to just turn it off. Whatever notifications you get can definitely wait until after you’ve aced a job interview.

3. Making a weakness a positive

This one is not so obvious. We’ve been told constantly to make our ‘weakness’ into a positive. We’re outsmarting the system that way, aren’t we? No, we’re not. To say your weakness is being a perfectionist is an answer hiring managers have heard over and over again. They don’t want to hear something you’ve rehearsed. And they don’t actually care about your weakness (unless it’s detrimental to you being able to do the job). They ask about your weaknesses to see how you will go about answering the question. Be honest, mention a weakness that isn’t primary in the job you are going for and explain how you are improving upon that downfall. The steps you are taking to progress past your weakness is what the hiring manager will be impressed by.

4. Not asking questions

I’ll always say, an interview is just a professional conversation. And conversations are rarely one-sided. Yes, the interviewer will want to hear all about you, but they’ll also want to see that you are interested and serious about the job. Asking questions shows maturity and thoughtfulness. It will also demonstrate your ability to communicate openly. Plus, asking questions isn’t just about impressing the hiring manager, you also need to ask questions that are important to you. Ask about the company culture and your day-to-day tasks. Make sure you’re asking about things that will make a difference to both you and the company. Don’t ask questions just for the sake of it otherwise it may come off as ‘fake interested’. Here is a list of questions that you can ask in an interview!

5. Not researching the company

One question not to ask is ‘So what do you guys do here?’. Stop right there. You should know this! First of all, when applying for a job it should always be a priority to check out what the company does. It’s good practice to make sure what they do aligns with your morals, skills and experience. After applying and securing an interview you should do even more research. Especially about developments in the field in which you work. Try to grasp an understanding of the company’s values and goals for the future and incorporate that into your interview questions and answers.

6. On that note… not being prepared in knowledge about yourself

Knowledge about the company is great but sometimes we can forget to do a little self-research too. We think we know ourselves so well but sometimes in an interview situation we can freeze up or have a memory blank. Think about all the questions that could be asked in conjunction with the experience on your resume as well as problem-solving enquiries or questions that require you to explain a previous predicament. If you have and rehearse certain situations it will be easier to remember them and repeat them to the interviewer when the relevant question is asked. You don’t want to appear stuck, this can lead to a hiring manager being unsure if the anecdote you are telling is as true as you say. Sometimes thinking of things on the spot can hinder our speech and professionalism. Do yourself a favour and mull over your past achievements, be proud to talk about them!

7. A bad answer to ‘tell me about yourself’

So, what’s a bad answer to this query? I guess, starting with ‘Um, ah, what do you mean?’ isn’t a great start. Yeah, I’ve done that before when I first started interviewing for jobs. I’d sit there and think about the question like I was having an existential crisis. But there’s no need for that. Telling the hiring manager about yourself is a mix of job history and personal life. It’s a very careful balance between the two and job history/experience should always take the leading role. A good idea is to create yourself an elevator pitch. Something you are confident in saying about yourself that sells you to others. If you have this prepared, you can’t go wrong and there will be no um’s or ah’s.

8. Presenting yourself too boldly

We want people to be themselves. Otherwise, if you hire someone because you liked their personality, but they were completely fake, you’ll end up with an unhappy employee and an awkward working situation. So be yourself. What I mean by being too bold is not to share any radical views, or wear ridiculous out of the box clothing and hairstyles. This is simply a safe move because we never know who we are going to be interviewed by. People carry unconscious biases without even realising. It’s best to be as neutral as possible to ensure that you have a fair and judgement free interview.

9. Having negative body language

Having negative body language should be another no-brainer! The thing is, we often have habitual movements or facial expressions when we feel certain ways that can come off in the wrong way. The best you can do is be more self-aware of your actions. It’s wise to practice your posture and movements in the mirror before you leave the house.

10. Not following up after the interview

Some people don’t think this is necessary. But from either view, it’s undeniable that this is a nice courtesy. If you thank someone for taking their time to meet you, it will go a long way. Hiring managers are busy and often have an abundance of other tasks to do, so they will like your appreciation. It also helps to give you a gauge of what the next step is for both them and you. It will show you’re on the ball and that you value the opportunity.  Even if the interview went sourly and you don’t think you have much chance of a callback, an email will ensure that you don’t burn any bridges. Maybe, if you really want to work there, a more suited role will arise in the future. 

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In case you missed it, check out our page Common Interview Questions