Common Interview Mistakes You Might Be Making

By Bethany Fischer on May 19, 2021

Most everyone in a professional industry has made an interview mistake at some point in their careers. Interviewing for a new job may feel frightening under normal circumstances, and the pressure to get back to work after a year of turmoil only adds to this fear. Because hiring trends in many industries seem to indicate a slower hiring market, potential employees need to put their best foot forward when it comes to interviewing.

An interview is more than just answering a series of questions; it is a time where hiring professionals size up their options and weed out candidates that aren’t good fits for their companies. Answering the questions correctly is only half of the battle. First impressions, non-verbal cues, and professionalism all play into someone’s hiring decisions. It is easy to fall victim to common interview mistakes that will quickly eliminate your chances of getting employed. Being aware of common interview mistakes is a good way to put yourself ahead in the hiring game.

1. You didn’t make a good first impression

Everyone has days where they feel a little bit “off.” It is virtually impossible to make a good first impression on everyone you meet. However, it is important to present your best self to a potential employer during your interview. As many as 33% of employers make decisions on certain candidates within the first 90 seconds of meeting! This means that you mustn’t commit this common interview mistake if you want to find yourself a job in this difficult job market.

There are many ways to make a bad first impression at an interview. Arriving late shows employers that you are not dependable and do not respect other people’s time. Dressing outside of the dress code indicates that you have either not done proper research into the company culture and standards, or that you don’t care about them at all. Getting caught lying about credentials, experience, and education is a major turn-off for employers because it makes them question or honesty and integrity. Making a good impression can put your potential employer at ease and will allow them to keep an open mind about you as you move forward in the hiring process. Avoiding this interview mistake greatly increases your chance of landing the job you want.

2. You haven’t prepared any questions for your interviewer

Most interviewers will wrap up your interview by asking if you have any questions for them. It may be tempting to answer “no” as to not bother the interviewer or seem uneducated. The truth is, not having any questions for your interviewer is one of the biggest interview mistakes a job seeker can make. Coming prepared with a few questions is beneficial for both you as the candidate and your interviewer for many reasons.

Asking genuine questions can help you better understand your potential position and help you make decisions, especially if you have multiple job offers. Having questions for your interviewer also shows them that you have a true interest in their company. Without questions, interviewers may question your commitment to the position, and you may come off as unprepared. Fortunately, it is easy to avoid this common interview mistake by asking some of the following questions:

  • What would a typical day in this position look like?

  • What are some issues you have seen people in this position face?

  • What kind of career growth can I look forward to in this position?

Avoid overly personal questions and be genuine when asking your interviewer any of the questions above. Avoiding this interview mistake by asking questions allows for an open dialogue between you and your potential place of work that puts you ahead in the hiring pool.

3. You spoke badly about your previous employer

Not everyone leaves a job on a good note. In fact, it is suggested that as many as 75% of people leave their jobs because of unfavorable conditions, like a bad manager. While quitting a bad job doesn’t always reflect negatively on the person being interviewed, it is important to put some thought into answering questions about previous work experience. Even when warranted, speaking negatively about a previous employer is a common interview mistake that is easily committed by employees who have felt wronged in the past.

It isn’t uncommon for interviewers to ask potential candidates about their likes and dislikes about their previous positions. However, there are ways to answer these questions without committing this interview mistake. When asked about something challenging at your previous job, center your answer around your conflict resolution skills. Be sure to emphasize your strengths as an employee instead of drawing light to drama that your potential employer will likely want to avoid. Speaking negatively about a previous employer can paint you in a bad light, even if your opinions are completely justified. Your interviewer may question your ability to work well with others and worry about your ability to show respect. To avoid making this interview mistake, approaching these questions with a positive attitude is always the best way to go.

4. You didn’t do any research about the company

Job seekers can almost always expect to be asked “why do you want to work for us?” at some point in their interview. While it may be true, replying with “because I need a job and you’re hiring” is usually not the best way to answer that question. An easy way to prepare for this question is to do some research about the employer before your interview. Not doing any kind of research before your meeting is a huge interview mistake that often turns employers off of candidates that have the qualifications.

This interview mistake goes back to being committed and prepared. A candidate that has researched the company has shown an interest and desire to work for a certain employer. It also shows an interviewer that you are willing to put in the work for the things that you want. On the other hand, not doing any research is an interview mistake that can leave the job seeker at a disadvantage. A lack of prior research can indicate to an employer that your interested level in a certain position is low. It may also express under-preparedness on the job seeker’s part. It may also set the potential candidate up for some awkward and embarrassing moments if they are asked questions that they are unable to answer. To avoid this common interview mistake, take a few minutes to look up your employer online. Learning about their mission statement, clients, and work culture will show them that you are a strong candidate that is eager to work for them.


If you have been out of work for a long time, jumping back into the workforce may seem like jumping out of a plane without a parachute. It is scary to re-enter a job market that will likely look different after adjusting to our world’s “new normal.” If you find yourself with rusty interview skills, it can be easy to make common interview mistakes that may make your job search unnecessarily difficult. Fortunately, it is easy to avoid certain interview mistakes by being confident and prepared. With just a little bit of effort, job seekers can reduce their chances of making interview mistakes and ensure that their job search ends successfully.

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