The 5 Biggest Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

The 5 Biggest Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


No job interview is flawless, but you can certainly cut down on the number of mistakes that you make, and you definitely don’t want to make any BIG mistakes.

First and foremost, a ringing cell phone is just that kind of mistake.  That’s why it’s important to remember to turn your phone off before the interview begins.  That will allow you to focus on making sure that you don’t “trip up” in some other way.

Below are the five biggest interview mistakes and how you can avoid them:

#1—Lack of research

Find out as much as you can about the company and the job opening ahead of time. Useful background data may include sales volume, profit for the last several years, major products and/or services, opportunities for growth, number of employees and branches, the mission statement, corporate giving to charitable institutions, reputation and background of management, and job responsibilities.

Most, if not all, of this information should be available online.  Other information, such as the company’s approach toward promoting from within, the job description, or the salary may require a little more digging.

#2—Inappropriate dress/appearance

Your appearance in the job interview is the first impression you’ll make, so show up like somebody who really wants the job.  Inappropriate dress is often a major reason that a person does not receive an offer of employment.  While it’s obvious that you can dress in too casual a fashion, you can also go too far in the other direction and “overdo it.”  This can involve too much jewelry, too much cologne or perfume or too much makeup.

#3—A perceived lack of integrity and credibility

Avoid saying negative things about your previous employers.  How you speak about your previous employers gives the hiring authority an idea of how you’ll speak about your next employer.  In addition, some people use negative speech patterns such as “just,” “actually,” “kinda,” and “almost.”  For example: “I’m just really grateful to be talking to you today.” These phrases make you come across as less confident, less authoritative, and less employable.

The same goes for using disclaimers such as, “Well, I’m really not an expert on this.”  People think these types of statements make them seem more likable or down-to-earth, but they undermine credibility.

#4—Failure to ask good questions

Ask intelligent questions about the job opportunities and the position duties, and prepare a list of these questions beforehand.  Good questions provide you with the information you need to make a decision about the job, and they also impress your interviewer.

The hiring manager can ascertain whether or not you’ve done your homework by what kind of questions you ask.  They realize that you understand what the job requires, because you’re able to discuss its potential opportunities and challenges. When you’re asked if you have any questions at the end of the interview, simply shrugging and saying, “Not really” is a HUGE mistake.

#5—Asking about salary

You should avoid asking about salary unless the interviewer broaches the subject first.  You don’t want the employer to think that all you’re interested in is how much they pay.  You may ask about salary range only after several interactions and at the very end of an interview as a “curious question.”


Jacqueline Hill, Esq.

This post was written by .

Jacqueline Hill is a partner at Lexacount Search, where she places top senior-level and other legal talent with law firms and corporate legal departments across the United States. She has been writing about careers, lawyers, attorney professional development, and the legal industry for more than a decade. She can be reached at or 215-740-0104, extension 101.

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