9 Basic Interview Mistakes to Avoid

10 mins

There are many reasons why an interview can go sour. Though it's true that interviews are su...

There are many reasons why an interview can go sour. Though it's true that interviews are subjective in nature and the results are often beyond your control but, as an individual striving for success here are the nine things you should know to avoid that will help increase your chances of landing the job of your dreams during your interview stage. They are:

1. Not being punctual

A lack of punctuality in any situations may cause an inconvenience to others and will generally cause distaste from those who were kept waiting. In professional environments such as an interview, not being punctual will most likely lead to a bad start as it will undermine your professionalism.

To avoid the risk of appearing disorganised, make timeliness a habit by keeping to your schedule at all times. Arriving on time or even slightly early to anything will prove that you're a reliable, trustworthy and organised individual. Unbeknown to many people, these traits will go a long way in helping you be a memorable applicant and may even be the ultimate decider in the hiring process.

Remember, punctuality isn't a courtesy but a must in working environments!

2. Failing to do your research

The accessibility and convenience of information in today's digital age mean that there is no excuse for anyone to attend an interview underprepared. In the eyes of your potential future employer, coming underprepared shows your lack of dedication to the role and may even suggest your inadequacy at this early stage.

And yes, if you didn't know already, both these traits weigh heavily as a negative deciding factor in the hiring process. The reason for this is due to a direct correlation between the level of research undertaken and the degree of understanding that job seekers express. The truth is that no matter how experienced you may be, no one can successfully engage in an interview without practice and preparation.

After all, if you've heard of Benjamin Franklin's famous phrase that 'by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail' then you'll know that the saying holds a high degree of truth.

3. Engaging or displaying inappropriate behaviour

While it's great to be friendly and approachable in interviews, it's crucial that you do not overstep your boundaries. One of the biggest mistakes that job seekers may sometimes make is to be overfriendly with the interviewer or hiring managers.

Improper conduct during interviews is an immediate red flag and will hinder your progress in the hiring stage. To remain warm but professional at all times, avoid revealing or asking highly personal information, making inappropriate comments or jokes and above all, avoid flirting with anyone! And that includes the receptionist, security guard and anyone else within or in the building even if they aren't the ones conducting the interview.

Stay focused on landing that job, keep a professional manner and present the best version of yourself.

4. Showing your nerves through poor body language

It's natural to be nervous prior and during your interview but it's essential that you do not let that undermine your value or hard work. Understand that body language speaks volumes and that even the smallest gestures may help to paint a negative picture to the interviewer.

Some of the basic dos include:

  • offering a good, firm handshake
  • maintaining eye contact while listening and speaking
  • sitting upright with great posture
  • maintaining a friendly demeanour regardless of how the interview is going

Some of the basics to avoid include:

  • fidgeting
  • folding your arms or sitting slumped
  • sitting too closely to your interviewers (respect their personal space!)
  • looking around the room or peering into their belongings or notebooks

If you are overwhelmed about remembering all of these dos and don'ts in an interview, the best approach is to be conscious about how you are carrying yourself on the day. Trust us, putting some extra care and thought into your body language will only benefit you in the long run.

5. Inflating your experience or achievements

Lying at any stage in the hiring process is wrong but choosing to lie during an interview is probably the biggest mistake you can ever make. Honesty is always the best policy and telling nothing but the truth will save you from tripping over yourself with inconsistent information.

All hiring managers and recruiters have vast experience with thousands of applicants per week. Meaning that they have had enough practice and can skilfully see through any lies. When you're eventually caught out, you'll be immediately disqualified for any future consideration. And depending on the size of the industry you are interviewing for, you risk creating a negative reputation to your name.

Ten times out of ten, companies are more willing to hire an honest worker than those who fabricate details. So the best approach is to stick to the truth and steer clear of overexaggerated results and achievements.

6. Underselling yourself

Interviews are a time for you to present yourself and convince others that you are the best applicant for the job. It's safe to assume that your interviewers will know nothing beyond what's on your CV so don't be afraid to elaborate on all your accomplishments and sell yourself as the best candidate for the job.

To do so successfully, always present your best and most recent achievements in your interview and work to convey how your skills will be beneficial in the job that you are applying for. Take your time to elaborate on your skillset, never downplay any experience that you have and avoid undervaluing yourself.

It's also a good idea to force yourself to separate your self-worth and personal identity from work. That way, feedback and rejections won't become personal and, your value will be independent of it.

7. Making it all about you

While an interview's purpose is for companies to gauge your expertise and fit for the role, applicants must also remember that it is an opportunity for you to uncover more details about the company. Aspects like work culture, recent events and even future business plans are all areas that you can and should find out in an interview.

Although it may be hard to formulate questions during an interview due to various factors, try to pick up on one or two things in your conversation and structure your questions around them. Don't be afraid to show initiative or your interest in the company because chances are, recruiters and hiring managers are waiting for you to lead the conversation.

What's more, in doing so, you'll be getting an insight into the company, projecting confidence and showing initiative as a smart decision-maker. Some example questions to ask include 'what is the biggest accomplishment that the company have achieved so far?' or 'what are the company's goals and plans for the next five years?'

8. Not putting your phone (or any other electronics) on silent

Our dependence on technology means that we will most likely be using some form of electronics to calm ourselves before the big event. Whether it's using your mobile phone to look over some notes or listening to music to calm yourself before an interview, it's imperative that you put it on silent mode.

If not, you'll be taking the risk of having your phone ping with all the daily notifications or potentially receiving a call mid-interview. Now, because it's safe to assume that an interview will take place in a meeting room or a generally small, quiet space... the ringing of your phone will most likely disrupt your train of thoughts and throw you off guard.

To avoid this and save yourself from any awkward embarrassments, make sure to put your phone on silent on the morning of your interview. That way, it's a fail-safe, no-nonsense guarantee that your phone will be on mute.

9. Dressing inappropriately

The first impression you make on a potential employer is the most important one. While this is not a deciding factor in the hiring process, dressing well and dressing appropriately for your interview will only help to show your level of maturity and professionalism.

Generally, the best dressing tip for interviews is to match your clothes to the company culture but, if you're unsure, then it's always a good idea to be slightly overdressed than underdressed.

Whether you're a man or a woman heading to an interview, take extra care and thought to avoid dressing overly casual, revealing, flashy, colourful or anything else that might distract your interviewer. The bottom line here is to present yourself as best and as professional as possible.

Read How to Earn Respect in the Workplace