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What Not to Do in a Job Interview -15 common job interview mistakes

What Not to Do in a Job Interview

Securing an interview for a job is a thrilling moment. The job interview marks a significant milestone in your job search journey, offering you a valuable chance to leave a lasting impression. To maximise this opportunity, effective preparation is essential. Take the time to acquaint yourself with the do’s and don’ts of the interview process. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

What not to do in a job interview

 What Not to Do in a Job Interview -15 common job interview mistakes

1. Showing up late or too early

Punctuality is crucial when it comes to interviews. Arriving late is a surefire way to create a negative impression even before meeting your interviewer. First impressions hold significant weight in the hiring process, so making a positive one is vital. Being late for an interview reflects poorly on your time management skills and shows a lack of respect for the company, the interviewer, and the position itself. It’s best to carefully plan your schedule to ensure you arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. This demonstrates your enthusiasm for the opportunity and portrays you as a grateful candidate.

On the other hand, arriving excessively early can also be problematic as it puts unnecessary pressure on the interviewer to expedite their preparations. You should only enter the workplace 15 minutes early. Take a few moments to relax, gather your thoughts, and compose yourself before stepping inside.

2. Dressing Inappropriately

Another crucial aspect is dressing appropriately for the occasion. During a job interview, presenting yourself as professional and put-together rather than appearing messy or careless is important. While it’s possible to overdress for certain positions, aiming for a polished and a well-groomed appearance is always a safe bet.

If you’re interviewing for a professional position, dress in business attire. However, if you’re applying for a retail, restaurant, or lifeguard position, you can opt for a slightly more casual look while maintaining professionalism. Tailor your outfit based on the company’s culture and research to gauge the appropriate level of formality. A more relaxed startup environment may warrant business casual attire, while a traditional corporate setting may require more conservative and formal clothing choices.

3. Approaching the Interview as a Collaborative Conversation

Considering the interview as an interrogation is not a helpful mindset. Many people mistakenly expect employers to grill them and create an intimidating atmosphere. However, this perspective won’t assist you in winning over an employer. Instead of viewing the interview as a one-sided questioning session, approach it as a conversation where both parties engage in asking and answering questions. It’s essential to participate and have a dialogue with the interviewer actively. This approach demonstrates your communication skills, personality, and genuine interest in the role. Remember, asking thoughtful questions during the interview is crucial as it shows your engagement and helps you gather valuable information about the company and the position.

4. Leave the Beverages Behind

However, drinking a drink is not considered good interview etiquette. Arriving with a coffee, soda, or water can be distracting and may hinder your ability to answer questions effectively. It’s best to leave behind any beverages and focus solely on the interview. Avoid the risk of spills or accidents that could negatively impact your impression. If the interviewer or a company representative offers you a drink before the interview, it’s acceptable to accept it. This small gesture of accepting their offer can create a positive association and leave a good impression.

5. Avoid using the phone

Using your phone during the interview is a big no-no. It’s crucial to avoid contributing to stereotypes about millennials and their attachment to smartphones. Put your phone away and keep it out of sight throughout the interview. Texting or answering calls during the interview sends a clear message to employers that you are disinterested in the job and disrespectful of their time. To avoid distractions or negative perceptions, it’s best to turn off your phone before the interview begins and focus entirely on the conversation.

 6. Avoid fidgeting:

To create a positive impression, refrain from fidgeting during the interview. Fiddling with items on the desk, playing with your hands or feet, or exhibiting restless movements can be misconstrued as boredom or disinterest. Instead, aim to keep your hands and legs still, maintaining a composed and attentive posture. Avoid unnecessary touching of objects on the desk or table, as it can be distracting and may convey a lack of focus.

7. Embrace Responsibility for Mistakes

When discussing a time you made a mistake during the interview, avoid shifting blame onto others. The interviewer may inquire about a situation where you encountered challenges or errors. Instead of claiming that you have never made a mistake or placing the sole blame on your coworkers, take accountability for your actions. Acknowledge the error, explain what you learned from the experience, and articulate how you would handle the situation differently if faced with it again. Emphasise your growth mindset and demonstrate your ability to learn from setbacks, showcasing your accountability and maturity.

 8. Control Negative Expressions

Steer clear of frowning, sighing, or displaying actions or facial expressions that convey negativity. Such behaviours can give the impression that you have a disagreeable disposition. Instead, maintain a pleasant demeanour, smile genuinely, and keep your tone light and positive. Show enthusiasm and an optimistic outlook throughout the interview.

9. Embrace Open Body Language

Be mindful of your body language and avoid crossing your arms during the interview. This gesture can sometimes signal defensiveness or wariness. Keeping your arms open will project an image of approachability and honesty. This fosters a more welcoming and engaging atmosphere between you and the interviewer.

10. Respond Thoughtfully

Steer clear of using aggressive or defensive language during the interview. Refrain from arguing with the interviewer, even when faced with difficult questions. Instead, take a moment to reflect on the question, gather your thoughts, and respond with patience and composure—approach challenging queries to showcase your problem-solving abilities and willingness to engage in constructive dialogue.

11. Bring Relevant Materials

Ensure you arrive at the interview well-prepared. Avoid the perception of being unprepared by bringing the necessary materials. Carry multiple copies of your resume and references neatly organised. Additionally, have a pen and paper ready to take notes during the interview, displaying your attentiveness and professionalism. Being prepared demonstrates your dedication and attention to the position and helps you stay organised throughout the conversation.

12. Avoid Fabrications on Your CV 

Maintain honesty throughout the interview process, from your CV to the interview. Any false information on your resume or during the conversation can harm your chances of success. Remember that the interviewer may inquire about details in your CV, so fabrications about your work history or education can seriously damage your prospects. Furthermore, if you are working with a recruiter, any dishonesty may be noted in your file, leading to losing future opportunities with that agency.

13. Avoid Overly Personal Discussions

While displaying friendliness and a sense of humour during a job interview is beneficial, it’s important to maintain a professional demeanour. Avoid becoming excessively casual or sharing overly personal details. Remember that the interviewer could become your future manager, or the recruiter will provide feedback to your potential employer. Treat the interaction with respect and maintain a friendly yet professional approach.

14. Wait for Directions and Avoid Trying to Control the Interview

Demonstrate common courtesy by waiting for the interviewer to indicate where you should sit. Allow them to take the lead in directing the interview process. Once seated, avoid slouching or adopting improper posture. Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. Refraining from attempting to control or take charge of the meeting is equally important. The hiring manager or recruiter has specific points to cover within the allotted time. Respect their role and follow their lead throughout the conversation.

15. Timing is Key

Unless the interviewer brings up the topic or an offer is extended, it is advisable to refrain from initiating discussions about salary or requests for time off, such as upcoming holidays. Focusing on these matters during the initial stages can create the impression that you are more concerned about financial aspects or personal plans than the job itself. It is best to leave discussions about compensation and time off for subsequent interview rounds. Before addressing these topics, prioritise impressing the hiring manager or recruiter with your qualifications and suitability for the role. Most employers understand that new hires will have salary expectations or preexisting commitments and will address these matters at an appropriate stage of the hiring process.


A job interview allows the hiring manager to evaluate your qualifications, skills, and suitability for the company. They want to ensure that you align with the company culture, share similar goals and values, and possess the skills mentioned on your resume. Lack of preparation is a common reason for unsuccessful interviews. With adequate preparation, your chances of a successful interview are high. It is crucial to prepare thoroughly and showcase to the interviewer that you are the perfect candidate for the position.

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