The 10 biggest interview mistakes

Some things can make an interview go terribly wrong. Check out our advice on what not to do.

3 minutes

1. Turning up late

Work out exactly where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. If you can, do a practice run.

On the day, allow yourself 30 minutes extra for traffic problems or delays.

If for some reason you're running late, call your interviewer to let them know.

2. Inappropriate clothing

What’s appropriate varies depending on the job you’re going for, so try asking someone who works in the same industry.

If you’re still not sure, go for something more formal – a suit or dark trousers or skirt with a smart shirt or top.

Find out more about dressing for an interview in our article. 

3. Being unprepared

You need to know your CV inside out. If it’s a competency-based interview, make sure you've prepared relevant examples.

Research the employer, go over the job description and take notes on how your skills and strengths match up.

4. Lying

Anything from big lies about what jobs you’ve done, to little tweaks about your skills or knowledge can trip you up.

It’s very easy for your interviewer to catch you out with a few follow-up questions.

5. Criticising a current or previous employer

It’s fine to talk about what you would like to achieve and why this might not be possible in your current job. Never bad-mouth a current or previous employer.

It could give your interviewer the impression you’re difficult to work with.

6. Letting your nerves get the better of you

This is probably the most difficult mistake to avoid.

Interviews make everyone a bit anxious, but there are techniques you can use to keep those nerves in check. The NHS has some tips and breathing exercises that can help you relax and keep calm in your interview. 

7. Giving textbook responses

It’s important to show your personality in an interview.

Try to be open and honest about your skills and strengths, giving examples of when you've used them. 

That's stronger than giving cliched statements like 'I'm a real people person'. 

8. Being arrogant or rude

It's great to show that you're confident in an interview, but do not let it tip over into arrogance.

Listen carefully to your interviewer, do not interrupt and do not attempt too many jokes. You do not want to say anything that could cause offence.

9. Not asking any questions

Asking a few questions towards the end of the interview shows you’re confident, thoughtful and interested in the position.

Some good fall-back options are asking what:

  • kind of training opportunities the employer offers
  • the workplace culture is like
  • career opportunities are available

10. Criticising the company that's interviewing you

Interviewers often ask candidates if they have any ideas on how the business could be improved.

You should have 1 or 2 examples, but make sure you answer in a polite way.

Your interviewer may be the person responsible for that marketing campaign, menu or window display that you’re commenting on.