8 Things to Avoid Doing in an Interview
Hcareers / JANUARY 21 2021

So your resume and cover letter landed you an interview, congratulations! Your next step is nailing the interview to get the final job offer. But, interviews can sometimes make you so nervous you forget how to answer questions, or how to act. 

The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to make a mistake that could cost you the job offer.

Here are the 8 things to avoid in a job interview to make the best impression possible. 

Not researching the company or position 

Before applying for a job, you should do some light research on the company you are applying for, to make sure that your values match the company. If you do secure an interview, make sure to do even more research about the company so that you can answer any question the interviewer may ask you. Some of the most common questions will be:

  • “Why do you want to work at [company name]?”
  • “What interested you in applying for this position?”
  • “Do you understand what we do here at [company name]”

There is nothing more off-putting for an employer than a candidate not being able to answer basic questions about the company, it shows them you don’t really care, or you don’t have enough motivation to thoroughly prepare.

Being late, or not having tested out the video call technology

You should always be at least 10 minutes early for an in-person interview, but make sure you are not too early for an interview either. Always plan your commute with a buffer from traffic, unexpected situations, or the interviewer or even allowing yourself some time to fill out documents. 

If you happen to arrive at an interview too early, maybe talk a quick walk around the block, or stay in your car and do some more research or practice. 

Now that video interviews are the method most employers are using, make sure to download and test out whatever video call system they are going to use for your interview. That way, on the day of your interview you are not scrambling to try to fix any technical issues. Try to call in a few minutes early for your video call, only two or three minutes early. 

Lacking enthusiasm, interest, or passion 

The job search can be long and draining but make sure that you go into every interview ready to answer the questions and excited to learn more about the opportunity. If you don’t care, it’ll be hard for the interviewer to care as well. 

Make sure not to feign your enthusiasm or interest, however, because the interviewer will be able to tell you’re not being genuine and be less impressed. To help you go into every interviewer at your best, make sure to mentally prepare yourself and take time before your interview to do something you enjoy or just truly relax

Forgetting to ask questions 

Similarly, to lacking enthusiasm, if you don’t prepare a few questions for the interviewer they will think you are uninterested or unprepared for the interview. This will help them see you are paying attention, and you want to be considered for the position. Try to have two or three questions ready to go, making a list of five or so in case you cover a few during the interview. 

There will be time after the interviewer runs through their questions for you to ask them yours. Feel free to jot down some notes during the interview as well if something comes up that you would like to ask a follow-up question about.

Here are a few questions you could ask:

  • “What is your favorite part about working at [company name]?”
  • “What would the first 30, 60, or 90 days look like for this position?”
  • “What skills or personality traits do you think will make someone successful in this role/company?”

Speaking badly about a previous employer

Interviewers may ask you why you left a previous employer, why you are looking for a new job opportunity, or even what you didn’t like about your previous job. Don’t take this as a chance to air out your grievances. Instead, focus on what opportunity this new position would give you that your previous or current role doesn’t. For example: “I am looking for an opportunity to take on a role that allows me to manage others,” or “I would like to have the opportunity to manage a budget and work more with finances.”

Bringing up salary too quickly 

A rule of thumb for interviews is to not be the first person to bring up salary. Although it is a very important part of the job search, talking about money too soon will show the employer you care more about that than learning if you and the role/company are a great fit for each other. 

Don’t worry, you will of course eventually talk about the salary and have your chance to negotiate if you feel it is appropriate! 

Dressing Inappropriately 

This first impression you will make will be through your appearance. Make sure to research what the general dress code is for the company and the position you are dressing for. You want the employer to be able to picture you in the role, which includes dressing for the role, even if the role requires a uniform. 

Here are some tips to dress for any dress code and type of interview.  Don’t forget, even if it is a video call and not an in-person interview, they will still be able to see you from the waist up. 

Forgetting to bring your documents 

Make sure to always bring an extra copy of your resume, cover letter, references, and any other document the employer may have asked for. If you are applying for a leadership role or a sales/marketing/finance role you may be asked to bring some portfolio work as well. 

The interviewer has likely looked through hundreds of documents, so if you have it ready to go you can stand even more apart during your interview.

A bonus tip is to bring your own notebook and pen or pencil as well to show the interviewer that you are truly prepared.