10 Most Common Job Interview Mistakes

Updated: Oct 18

Over the last 2 decades, I have interviewed more than 4000 candidates. I have also gathered feedback from our clients on candidate interviews over the last several years. I am actually surprised at the basic interview mistakes that most candidates make. Here are some of them and probably worth your read.

1. Arriving late

The ground rule of an interview is "if you are on time, you are late". It is important you arrive 10-15 minutes prior to your scheduled time. Keep time for traffic delays, parking issues, elevator problems, and incorrect routes. Arriving early allows you to get used to the surroundings, accept the glass of water (to calm your nerves), pay attention to the office staff and the work culture, and brush up on last-minute reviews.

You will be calm and confident to face the interviewers.

2. Arriving too early

On the flip side, arriving too early can cause you to be too relaxed and when the time actually arrives, you have lost some of the drive and enthusiasm you actually had when you walked into the office.

3. Appearing unpolished or too fashionable

Appearing professional is very important. A light colored formal shirt and a dark trouser with a matching tie is best for the the gents. Make sure your hair is neatly combed and your shoes are polished. A blazer, jacket or suit is very good too. Interviewers sometimes catch the shoes first. It shows effort and attention to detail.

For the ladies, formal trousers or a business skirt with formal shoes is very important. Avoid traditional attire (unless you are a UAE national). Avoid flashy jewelry, ambitious eyewear, or too much perfume.


4. Not bringing a resume

Most interviewers will have your resume before you arrive. However, it is best to carry 2-3 copies just in case there is a panel interview or a last-minute senior manager decides to join in. You will come out as someone prepared.

5. Displaying low energy

Low energy, lack of enthusiasm, fatigue or tiredness, poor body language (not maintaining eye contact with all interviewers, slouching when sitting, and a soft or too loud voice do not reflect well on you. Companies see this as rubbing off on others which they do not want.

Sit upright, ensure you have had a good night's sleep, and you are not rushing through public transport to make it in on time for the interview. Have had a glass of water and taken a deep breath, prior to your interview. Water calms nerves. A confident handshake (the pandemic may prevent this now) is important too (unless a lady may not want to shake hands)

6. Unprepared on your Resume

If is very important that you have read your resume a few time the previous day to ensure you know your resume well. It is ok to refer your resume during the interview, but even better if you know it well. You may even want to carry a note book to take down notes during the interview (make sure you ask permission first). These notes can help you do a review later.

7. Lack of Company and Interviewer Research

Make sure you have done good research on the company's website, social media presence, news articles, and recent publications, etc. Information has the power to influence your interviewers and others and also show how much time and effort you invested in preparing yourself. Try and read about the interviewers. You will know their backgrounds and use it to impress.


8. No Questions

Most interviewers leave time at the end to answer questions. The questions you ask often reveal the way you think and what’s important to you. It also shows that you care enough about the job that you want to know more. Not having the right questions could indicate you do not care enough.

Some questions like

Is this a new or replacement position? What has been lacking in this role that I could bring? What is the company's work culture like? What would be expected of me in the first 30-60-90 days? If my performance evaluation go well, what sort of career progression could I expect?

9. Forgetting to Follow up

Following up is part of the interviewing process. Hiring managers test to see how much the candidate wants the job. Your follow up must come through within 24 hours of your interview and then if there is now reply again after 48 hours.

10. Following up too Aggressively

Chasing the interviewer can have adverse effects like putting the interviewer off and making him/her avoid your calls and not replying to your emails. Maintain a professional follow-up once a week to 10 days, after the initial follow-ups until a decision is made.


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