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The 10 biggest interview mistakes to avoid

We’ve pulled together the most common silly mistakes in interviews so you can avoid them.

No one is perfect at interviews

From nervousness to on-the-day mishaps, things go wrong in interviews all the time.

The good news? Your interviewers know things can happen that are out of your control, and you won’t be penalised for them. But it’s hard to hide when you haven’t prepared or are missing key skills needed for the job or course.

We don’t want any tiny mistakes to stop you from acing your next interview. So, make sure to avoid these most common errors.

Ultimately you can only go in and tell the interviewers what you're all about. If that is a good fit for that organisation then great. If not, you shouldn't beat yourself up about it.Larry HansenCareers Adviser, Skills Development Scotland
article-image-640x360 10-mistakes

1. Turning up late

Interviews are usually the first opportunity you get to meet people you’ll be working with. Imagine their first impression of you is that you made them wait because you were late.

Turning up late doesn't look good for your time management skills, and it shows a lack of respect for the interviewer’s time.

Work out where you’re going ahead of the day, allow yourself more time to travel and call your interviewer if you’re running late. They’ll appreciate the notice.

2. Dressing too casually

First impressions matter, and interviews are full of them! Dressing inappropriately – whether that’s too casual or too fancy – can sent the wrong message.

Research the company’s dress code on their website and aim to dress slightly more formally than that. A suit, trousers or skirt with a shirt or blouse usually won’t go wrong.

3. Not reading about the company

You’re expected to know your CV inside-out and have a good understanding of the company you’re applying for.

Take time to research their values, mission and recent achievements so you’re armed to answer crucial questions.

If you have a competency-based interview, you’ll be given materials beforehand that you’ll need to know thoroughly. Read our article about this type of interview so you don’t miss a thing!

4. Being unprofessional

From the moment you arrive (in-person or online), you must be professional, polite and respectful. Whether you’re speaking to a receptionist, member of staff or the interviewer themselves, you want to show off your positive attitude.

Listen carefully, respond to all questions and thank them for the opportunity you have, regardless of the outcome.

5. Not asking questions

While an interview is your chance to show-off why you’re wonderful, it’s also the time to see if this company is right for you.

Asking questions throughout shows you’re interested and makes the whole thing a little more like a conversation. Prepare a list of questions before your interview that demonstrate your understanding of the company and the role.

You could ask what training opportunities there are, what it’s like to work there or what career opportunities there are in the company.

Stay positive – use positive language and share what you have learnt from difficult situations rather than complaining.Kirstin GrayCareers Adviser, Skills Development Scotland

6. Letting your worries get the better of you

Listen, interviews make everyone feel a little on-edge. Luckily, there are some helpful techniques for helping you stay calm on the NHS website.

When you’re stressed or anxious, it’s harder to think clearly in the moment. Be kind to yourself in the lead up to your interview.

And remember, when you start talking about things you’re good at and why this job excites you, you won’t be able to hide the positivity shining from your face.

7. Criticising the company

You may be asked if you have any ideas on how the company might be improved. You’re being tested on how well you give constructive feedback.

Being constructive means offering ideas for improvements in a polite and kind way. Going overboard with negative feedback may raise concerns about how well you work with people.

Keep in mind that the interviewer may be the person who was responsible for the campaign, menu or window display you’re commenting on.

8. Being dishonest

It may be tempting to exaggerate your qualifications or lie about your experience, but it’s crucial to be truthful. Employers value honesty and integrity.

If you’re caught lying in an interview, who’s to say you won’t lie on the job? You need to be trusted to do your job well.

Any dishonesty will be quickly discovered when background checks are carried out – so, don’t risk it.

9. Criticising your employer

It’s fine to talk about what’s been challenging or what may not be possible in your current job. But never bad-mouth a current or previous employer for the sake of it.

Negative comments like this can be red flags for interviewers. You may give them the impression that you’re difficult to work with.

Instead, focus on what these experiences helped you learn and grow, both personally and professionally.

10. Poor communication skills

Very easy to do, and equally easy to forget: good communication.

Focus on speaking clearly, maintaining good eye contact and listening while your interviewer speaks. Practice your answers beforehand. You may feel silly but you’ll start to memorise the way it feels when you’re giving answers with confidence.

Keep it clean on your social media

Not every employer will look you up on social media, but some may before an interview. So, make sure you’re not posting inappropriate comments or posts.

It’s perfectly legal for an employer to check public social media accounts. To stop someone looking at yours, it’s a good idea to check your account’s privacy settings and make sure it’s private.