Common interview mistakes

If you’ve passed the initial stages of the recruitment process you may be invited for interview. This is often your last chance to prove you’re the best person for the job so you don’t want to make mistakes. Below are some common interview mistakes and how to avoid them.

Avoid making mistakes at interview


It’s fine to take your time to think before answering a question but if you start every answer with an ‘er…’ and a long pause, the interviewers will think that you haven’t done much preparation.

Try to anticipate what questions the interviewers will ask by researching the company, reading the job description and trying to imagine what a typical day in the job would be like.

Try to make your answers seem natural; don’t recite your answers word-for-word.

Inappropriate clothing

What’s appropriate to wear for an interview depends on the job you’re going for. You might not need to wear a three-piece suit, but smart dress is generally appropriate.

Don’t put on too much jewellery, show too much skin or wear overpowering scents.

Personal grooming is highly important – dirty fingernails, scruffy hair and creased clothes will not impress an interviewer.

Not arriving on time

Work out exactly where you’re going, how you’re going to get there and how long it will take.

You should plan another way of getting there in case something unexpected happens, such as an accident on your route.

If for some reason you're running late, phone your interviewer to let them know.

Badmouthing a current or previous employer

If you bring up conflict with previous employers an interviewer might think you’ll be difficult to work with.

Also, the company interviewing you might do business with your previous employer, especially if they are in the same area of work.

If you do criticise a former employer, an interviewer might assume you’ll do the same on them when you leave.


If you are asked a question that you aren’t prepared for, don’t waffle around the subject. Instead you should tell the interviewer you need a few moments to think about it or ask them to rephrase the question. You then might be able to give a more considered response.

If the question is about something you haven’t done before, don’t lie by claiming to have experience in that area.

A bad attitude and appearing arrogant

A common mistake is negative body language. Yawning, slouching, chewing gum or looking at your watch, could all give the impression you aren’t interested in the job.

If you ask about salary and benefits too early in the interview it may appear that you are only in it for the rewards.

It's great to show that you're confident in an interview but while it’s good to be friendly be careful not to be over confident as this may come across as arrogance.

Don’t interrupt your interviewer and don’t attempt too many jokes.

Not asking any questions

Asking questions at the end of your interview is just as important as answering them. It shows you’re seriously interested in the job and it reinforces your suitability as a candidate.

Prepare a list of questions so you don’t forget them. You could ask about available training options or what career opportunities are available.

Be careful not to ask questions about things you should already know as this will show a lack of research.

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