The 10 Biggest Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

7 minute read


60% of interviewers know within 15 minutes whether they will hire you.


So every second counts.


Today we’ll look at the mistakes you don’t know you’re making.


The mistakes that could be holding you back.


The mistakes hiring managers notice straight away.


And how to avoid them.


Let’s get started.

1. Lack of Knowledge of the Company

It’s no secret that, according to employers, this is the #1 most common mistake they see in interviews.

Luckily it’s also the #1 most avoidable.

How to avoid: Do your research on the company. Find out as much as you possibly can about the company, the interviewer, and anything else of interest.

The best tool for this is LinkedIn, where you’ll find plenty of information about the company plus your interviewer’s employment history. 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates, so you should be using it too.

This will also give you great questions to ask in your interview, which can really set you apart. 

2. Lack of Eye Contact

If you want to act like you don’t want the job, avoiding eye contact is how to do it. It tells the interviewer you aren’t confident, aren’t paying attention, or just aren’t interested.

How to avoid: Of course we can’t all magically become super confident. And concentrating on maintaining eye contact 60-70% of the time while telling someone you just met why they should hire you is a tall order.

Practice eye contact with your friends or family next time you talk to them. This will make it feel more natural plus they can give you feedback – paying attention or staring into their soul?

Bonus Tip: Alternate which eye you look into when talking to the interviewer, especially when they are talking. It will help you convey your interest while preventing you from staring too intensely.

3. Badmouthing Your Previous Employer

Your interviewer will assume that you will do the same for them.

How to avoid: Regardless of how you left your previous job, talk respectfully about your last employer. It will reflect positively on you and shows you can be professional. 

Hiring managers know better than most that it isn’t always a clean break, but no one wants to go on a date with someone who complains about their ex the whole time.

4. Not Asking for the Job

This is something hiring managers really like to see but no one seems to know about. Confidence and self-esteem aside, not asking for the job can ruin your chances.

How to avoid: I’m not implying you should say “Can I have the job please?” before you leave. But there are some nifty ways you can ask for the job without actually asking, for example: “I’m really excited about what you’re doing and would love to be a part of it”. 

If that feels too strong, you can go for “Can you tell me the next steps in the interview process”. You need to show your interest and enthusiasm. 

Oh look, that’s next.

5. Lack of Interest/Enthusiasm

Body language, knowledge of the company and asking for the job are great ways to show interest. Here’s another key one.

Don’t just answer the question. You need to show you understand why you’re being asked that question.

• Why would they want to know?

• What does your answer say about you?

• What kind of things do you think they would want to hear?

Pause to think about the ‘why’ before you dive into answering.

6. Lacking Humour, Warmth or Personality

If you’re at an interview, you’re most likely suitable for the job – on paper. But a lack of warmth will give your interviewer cold feet. In fact in an Accountemps survey 79% of chief financial officers said an employee’s sense of humour is important

Time for a personality check.

It’s definitely not a good idea to force jokes into your answers. However, if your answer has a fun mini-anecdote blended in, that can go down well. 

Another great opportunity for humour is a hobbies/interests question. If you’re still not feeling funny, that’s ok, just be sure to smile. It can do wonders.

7. Over-Explaining Why You Lost Your Last Job

This is a big interview faux-pas.

How to avoid: If you were let go from your last job, it’s ok to touch on it. Briefly. It’s worth preparing a short answer for the “Why did you leave your last position” question to ensure you don’t waffle. 

8. Speaking Too Fast

I am a fast-talker, guilty as charged.

While it’s nothing to be ashamed of, speaking at lightspeed in an interview can make you seem nervous and put the interviewer off (unless you’re applying to be an auctioneer).

How to avoid: This is my own personal tip. Once the interviewer has finished asking the question, have a sip of water.

This will give you a bit of time to think about your answer without just sitting in silence. Speaking too fast and rambling are usually a result of diving into the answer prematurely.

Give your brain a head start on your mouth. This is extra important when it comes to telephone interviews.

9. Bad Body Language

Fidgeting, a weak handshake, playing with your hair and more. Not only are these distracting and potentially irritating for the interviewer, but they can also affect their decision. Here’s how to stay still and focused.

How to avoid: If you’re feeling restless at minute 44 of the interview, try to breathe nice and slowly. It will slow your heart rate and make you feel calmer.

If this doesn’t work, try clenching and unclenching your toes. It’s a great way to use up any unwanted energy without visibly moving.

10. Lying About Hobbies

A friend of mine was interviewing a candidate. In the candidate’s CV she had listed yoga as one of her hobbies. But when asked about it, it was immediately clear that she had never done yoga in her life. It didn’t cost her the job in the end, but it still reflected badly.

How to avoid: Be honest about your hobbies when writing your cv.

It’s ok if you’re not a kite-surfing, spoon-carving, Michelin starred chef on the weekends. Put down what you like to do with your free time, but only if it’s something you could discuss in an interview. 

When used properly, hobbies can be a secret weapon in your interview and CV arsenal. A way to be relatable, show your true colours and make yourself a memorable interviewee.

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