50 Mistakes You Don't Want to Make in a Job Interview

Common Interview Mistakes to Avoid

Woman waiting for job interview
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It's easy to make a mistake when you are in a job interview. Being under the spotlight of an interviewer's attention can make you nervous, causing you to misspeak. 

Worst of all, sometimes, you might not even realize you have gone awry. For instance, some job seekers may not realize that it isn't acceptable to walk into an interview with a cup of coffee or a bottle of water—doing so is just a bit too casual for an interview setting. 

Some of the interview mistakes made most frequently should be obvious, but others aren't as clear, especially if you haven't interviewed much or in a while.

Top 50 Interview Mistakes

Here are the top 50 most common interview mistakes to review so you can avoid making them.

  1. Dressing inappropriately. First impressions count, and your interviewer will note your outfit. 
  2. Not taking a phone interview as seriously as an in-person interview. That's true for video interviews, too. Prepare for these interviews beforehand, and if you'll be on camera, make sure your outfit is professional. 
  3. Leaving your cell phone on. Buzzes and rings during an interview are highly unprofessional. 
  4. Chewing gum.
  5. Bringing a cup of coffee or other drink with you.
  6. Bringing another person with you to the interview—this is a solo occasion. 
  7. Wearing sunglasses. Stash them in your bag (not on top of your head or in the collar of your shirt). 
  8. Showing up too early.
  9. Showing up late.
  10. Showing up hungover and/or really tired.
  11. Going to the interview if you are really sick.
  12. Not knowing the interviewer's name.
  13. Not introducing yourself.
  14. Leaving a Bluetooth earpiece on.
  15. Texting during the interview.
  16. Interrupting the interviewer to take a call.
  17. Have background noise (kids, pets, etc.) during a phone interview. (Video, too.) 
  18. Wearing too much much perfume or cologne.
  19. Wearing a hat or cap to the interview.
  20. Not bringing extra copies of your resume.
  21. Not bringing a list of references.
  22. Depending on the job, not bringing a portfolio of your work.
  23. Playing with your hair.
  24. Saying "umm" or "you know" or "like" too often. Aim to give polished, confident responses. 
  25. Mumbling and using poor grammar.
  26. Talking too much. While you want to answer the questions, avoid rambling. 
  27. Cutting off the interviewer's question.
  28. Not talking enough.
  29. Not smiling enough.
  30. Telling jokes and laughing too much.
  31. Not making eye contact with the interviewer.
  32. Criticizing your last company or boss.
  33. Not remembering your work history.
  34. Checking your notes for an answer to a question.
  35. Not following directions if you're given a test.
  36. Not being prepared to answer questions.
  37. Not paying attention to the questions you're asked.
  38. Not taking the time to research the company prior to the interview.
  39. Forgetting the name of the company you are interviewing with.
  40. Forgetting the names of the companies you've worked for in the past.
  41. Not remembering the job you applied for.
  42. Telling the interviewer that you really need the job.
  43. Telling the interviewer that you need the money.
  44. Not knowing enough about the company you are interviewing with. To interviewers, this signals that you're not truly interested in the role or company. 
  45. Asking about time off in your first interview.
  46. Asking about salary and benefits right away.
  47. When asked, "Why do you want to work for our company?" providing answers that are focused on you instead of on how you will benefit the company.
  48. Not have relevant questions to ask when asked, "What questions do you have?"
  49. Neglecting to thank the interviewer for the opportunity to meet with him or her.
  50. Not sending a thank-you note after the interviewer.

Avoiding Interview Mistakes

Here's the good news: Avoiding these mistakes isn't a huge challenge in most cases.

To impress interviewers, and avoid these mistakes, you'll just need to take some time to prepare beforehand.

That way, you'll be ready to confidently answer interview questions, while wearing an appropriate outfit and making sure to avoid common interview mistakes. 

Try these tips leading up to the interview to make sure that you have a mistake-free interaction: 

  • Try to find out as much as you can about office culturebefore going into your interview. Dressing appropriately is imperative. Whatever you wear should be free from wrinkles and stains. Jeans, flip-flops, gum chewing, and sunglasses on top of your head are never appropriate—no matter how casual the office might be.
  • Show up 10 minutes before the interview time. Don't show up half an hour early. And, definitely, do not show up late. If you're going to an unfamiliar destination, leave yourself enough time to get lost and park. You can always sit in your car or walk around the block if you're too early to show up at the office. 
  • Bring multiple copies of your resume and make sure they are not folded up. 
  • Bring a bag large enough for a folder, if necessary. That way, you can place those copies of your resume in your bag. It's also a good idea to bring a notebook and writing implement, so you can take notes during the interview. 
  • Be interesting. You are there to stand out, so don't be afraid to say something interesting. (That said, keep the conversation focused on the job at hand, not politics or your personal life.) 
  • Research what the job entails. You need to be aware of what is expected in the position for which you are applying. Having information on the role and the company will help you give stronger answers. 
  • Know your interviewer's name. It will make a good first impression.
  • Don't lie - it won't take long for an employer to figure it out, and dishonesty is generally disqualifying. 
  • Never be cliche - don't tell the interviewer you are a people person, for example. This goes back to being interesting; you want to say something that the interviewer hasn't heard before countless times. 
  • Come prepared with concrete examples of your professional or social successes. You'll also want to come prepared with questions of your own. That way, when the interviewer asks for questions, you'll be prepared. 

Top 10 Interview Tips

These top interview tips will help you cover everything you need to know to successfully ace a job interview. From checking out the company to sending an interview thank you note, these job interview tips cover all the basics needed for interviewing success.