Top 5 Interview Mistakes to Avoid

Nov 27, 2015

You finally landed an in-person interview for your dream job. You know you’ve got the qualifications, but will you get the position? Let’s assume you already know how to dress appropriately, be on time, turn off your cell phone, and greet the interviewer with eye contact, a pleasant smile and a firm handshake. How can you tip the scales in your favor once the interview begins? Here are five of the top interview mistakes to avoid with quotes from a few friends.

Top 5 Interview Mistakes

1. Talking too little or too much.

Speak up. There are certain questions an interviewer will most probably ask you. “Why do you want to work for us?” “What previous experience do you have in this field?” “How will you contribute to our company?” Come prepared to answer these types of questions.

Many years ago, I interviewed for the position of Director at a new childcare center. My resume did not include managerial experience and, because I was shy, I failed to mention my ability to handle a staff of teachers, which I had done in previous teaching jobs. Not surprisingly, I did NOT get the position.” ~ Friend #1

Be ready to listen. If you are talking all the time, you’ll miss important non-verbal clues the interviewer may be giving you. And if you don’t listen carefully, you may make the common interview mistake of answering a question incorrectly.

2. Not being familiar with the company.

These days there is just no excuse for lack of research. The internet enables you to find out all about the company you want to work for. Do your homework so that you can have an intelligent conversation about the goals or culture of the company and how you will be a good fit. Definitely don’t make the interview mistake of not knowing the name of the company and the person who is interviewing you!

My daughter has interviewed successfully for many management positions. Before each interview, she carefully researches the company. She finds out how long they have been in business, what their goals are, who their competitors are and any other information she can uncover. She also looks at the LinkedIn page for the boss or whoever is interviewing her to see if they have anything in common. This helps her feel more comfortable and enables her to have an intelligent conversation with her interviewer.” ~ Friend #2

3. Not knowing your own information.

Sure the interviewer is looking at a copy of your resume, but you should be able to summarize your work history and point out job skills you have honed that will translate to this new position.

In addition, bringing a copy of your resume wouldn’t be a bad idea, even if you’ve sent a packet ahead or emailed everything. You may be asked to fill out an application that asks for previous work or education information and having it handy will save time and ensure accuracy.

I made this interview mistake…once. When I got to the interview, I discovered my paperwork had been lost and there was no resume for the interviewers to look at. By the time I rescheduled, the job had been filled. Had I had a copy with me, the job might have been mine.” ~ Friend #3

4. Criticizing a former boss or company.

Obviously, you are looking for a new job and want to leave your present employer. But talking poorly about the company you work for or the people you work with is a BIG interview mistake.

No matter how comfortable the interviewer tries to help you feel, this is business. Projecting a professional image at all times during your interview (and in the waiting room and parking lot) is critical. No off-color jokes, bad language, or talking trash about others.” ~ Friend #4

5. Not having questions to ask the interviewer.

An interview is a two-way street. For most of the interview, the interviewer will be questioning you. But there is often an opportunity for you to ask questions as well. Moments may present themselves throughout the course of the interview, but don’t make the mistake of not coming prepared with at least one additional question at the very end.

Show your interest in the position and in the company by asking questions that can show how you will be a dynamic asset to the company. However, questions about vacation, time-off, and salary are probably better left until an offer is made. The interview is really about how you will benefit the company, not how the company will benefit you.

I once interviewed two people for the same position. The first thing out of my mouth after the first candidate left was, ‘She couldn’t even think of one question to ask me!’ She didn’t get the job.” ~ Friend #5

Interviews can be difficult – there’s no doubt about that. But avoiding these top interview mistakes is as easy as one, two, three.

  1. Do your research

  2. Be prepared

  3. Act professionally

And that dream job might soon be yours!

About the Author

Charlie Kimmel

As President and CEO, Charlie has dedicated his 25+ year career to executive search at Kimmel & Associates. Charlie began his career at Kimmel & Associates in 1990 as a Recruiter. In 1993, he graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where he received a BA in History.

Read More About Charlie Kimmel
Contact Kimmel and Get Started Today
Let Us Help