11 Most Common Job Interview Mistakes To Avoid

Are you getting ready for a job interview?

If so, you should be aware of some common mistakes candidates often make, either before, during, or after the interview process.

These are the ones to watch, and how to avoid them like a pro:

1. Not Shaking Hands (Properly)

Every good job interview starts and ends with a handshake.

In many cases, the interviewer will extend a hand first. If they don’t, it’s important that you take the initiative.

The handshake should be firm. Not so strong that it comes off aggressive or overly confident. On the other hand (see what I did there?), a weak handshake can make you seem timid or uncertain.

The handshake should last for about two seconds, and be accompanied by eye contact and a smile.

2. Attempting To Flirt

Flirting in a job interview is not unheard of.

In fact, more often than not, flirting is instigated by the interviewer rather than the interviewee, which raises a whole new set of questions to deal with.

As a candidate, though, it’s unwise to engage in flirtatious behavior.

While there will always be exceptions where flirting works in your favor (and even lands you the job), the majority of interviewers will see this as disingenuine and unprofessional.

The odds don’t favor you, so it’s best to play it safe.

Being charming, on the other hand, is a far more reliable approach, and has a distinctly different feel to being a flirt.

3. Using Your Phone Mid-Interview

Phones have a wide range of uses these days, but very few of those are justified in a job interview environment.

In most cases, pulling out your phone (or it ringing) during an interview will suggest a multitude of things to the person interviewing you:

  1. You’re not engaged
  2. You have other priorities
  3. You lack awareness
  4. You didn’t prepare

None of these is a good look for you as a candidate.

Your phone should be switched off or on silent mode prior to a job interview, and only brought out if specifically requested.

4. Not Learning About The Company

You never really know what questions to expect in a job interview, but there are a handful of questions that tend to appear more often than not.

One of those questions is:

“What do you know about our company?

If you haven’t taken the time to research the company, it won’t take very long for the interviewer to work that out.

You either know the facts, or you don’t. There’s no talking your way around it.

That’s why you should always spend at least 10 minutes researching the company prior to the interview, including things like store locations, annual turnover, mission statement, company values, and so on.

You can find most of this stuff on their website or their Wikipedia page.

5. Disrespecting Previous Employers Or Colleagues

Some interviewers will tempt you into badmouthing your past employers or even colleagues, just to gauge the quality of your work-based relationships.

This can come in the form of questions like:

  • What would your previous employer say about you?
  • How would your colleagues describe you?
  • What did you dislike about your last job?

These questions are tricky because they encourage a positive response while also leaving the door open for negative remarks.

Those who take the opportunity to badmouth previous employers or colleagues demonstrate their inability to maintain good relationships with the people around them, and that’s a major red flag for any employer.

6. Leaving Unexplained Gaps On Your Resume

Sometimes, life just gets in the way. Things happen, and before you know it, you’ve been unemployed for months or even years.

Resumes leave clues, and any competent employer will see that.

But there’s nothing inherently wrong with having gaps on your resume. Interviewers are real people with real people’s problems, and most understand that hard times can fall on anyone.

Leaving those gaps unexplained, however, puts you at a major disadvantage when you’re eventually asked about them. And you will be asked.

The best thing you can do is tackle those gaps head-on, be it either directly on your resume or in the interview itself (where the opportunity presents itself, and, most importantly, before they ask).

Do so by taking the time to explain what you were doing during that time, why you were unable to secure employment, and what you did to overcome those challenges that ultimately put you in the chair today.

7. Not Paying Attention To The Interviewer

Nervousness and anxiety can manifest themselves in different ways during the interview process, many of which are forgivable.

Not paying attention isn’t one of them.

Things like constant fidgeting, not making eye contact, not listening to questions, and a general lack of responsiveness are all going to reflect badly on you as a candidate and prospective employee.

If you’re aware of these nervous characteristics in your own demeanor, it’s important to iron these out in a private setting before going into an interview.

There are also plenty of techniques you can employ to calm your pre-interview nerves, so don’t hesitate to get creative if this is a recurring problem.

8. Not Dressing Appropriately

According to a survey, 51% of employers still judge job applicants based on their appearance.

Regardless of the experience and qualifications you bring to the table, the way you look still matters.

A big part of that is how you dress for your interview.

Interview attire is fairly straightforward. You don’t need to

9. Not Knowing Your Resume

Interviewers will often ask questions based on your resume, be it your work experience, qualifications, or even industry-relevant hobbies.

But here’s the catch, they won’t always tell you that.

If you know your resume inside out, you’ll quickly be able to make a connection between the question they’re asking and what you wrote on your resume.

This provides context and allows you to answer the question in a way that validates your resume. It also gives you an opportunity to give new insights by expanding on what’s already written down.

Having to read from your own resume to get up to speed is a huge red flag, and one that’s easily avoided with some prep work.

10. Giving An Answer That’s Too Short Or Too Long

There’s no magic number for how long an interview answer should be.

For the most part, it depends on the question, but it’s safe to say that most interview questions are designed to prompt a somewhat detailed response.

If you’re just giving a one word or even word sentence answer, you probably didn’t elaborate enough.

If the interview was scheduled for 20 minutes and you’ve spent 5 minutes answering a single question, you probably went overboard.

The body language of the interviewer will tell you a lot here.

If they rephrase the question or ask follow up questions, it’s a good sign you didn’t give them enough to work with.

If they begin to fidget or you lose their full attention, it’s a good sign you rambled on too long.

11. Not Asking A Question At The End

It’s hard to know exactly which questions will be asked during a job interview, but you can almost always be sure about the last one:

“Do you have any questions for us?”

One of the biggest mistakes candidates make is not asking any questions.

The interviewer is looking for someone who’s genuinely interested and eager in the position, and asking questions is a very natural part of that.

Some great questions to ask are:

  • “What is the next step in this process?”
  • “How does your company handle work/life balance for employees?
  • “How soon would I start if successful?”
  • “What are your company’s values?”

It’s more important that you ask a question than worrying about what question to ask. Just make sure you ask.

Wrapping It Up

In the competitive job market, interviewers actively look for reasons to disqualify candidates and make the selection process easier.

By eliminating these mistakes, you increase your chances of making it through the rounds, and ultimately getting the job.

So keep pushing, keep applying!

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