Avoiding Mistakes

Avoid many of these interview mistakes by practicing your interview in Handshake. You can record your responses and get feedback, and you can review sample answers for many different interview questions. 

Common Interview Mistakes

  • Poor personal appearance - See our Professional Dress Guidelines for tips.
  • Late arrival for interview - Don't do this! Allow extra time to arrive early.
  • Forgetting to turn off your cell phone - NEVER answer it if it does ring.
  • Checking/sending text messages while waiting for an interview.
  • Poor posture, weak handshake, and failure to make eye contact.
  • Over-aggressive, "know it all" attitude - Confidence is desirable; arrogance isn't.
  • Being overly nervous, tense, and/or anxious.
  • Communicating too personally - Do not discuss personal matters not related to job.
  • Exhibiting an indifferent attitude about the job and not asking questions.
  • Failure to give specific examples - Behavioral Interviewing explains this concept.
  • Bringing up salary and benefits - Stay away from "what's in it for me?" questions.
  • Speaking negatively about anyone - Past/current employer, co-worker, professor.
  • Using poor grammar or slang, mumbling - Saying "um," "uh," "like," "you know."
  • Inability to use the language/terminology of the field/profession.
  • Not being truthful - Building trust in the interview is key to getting an offer.
  • Lack of career direction - No purpose, no goals mentioned, etc.
  • A "shopping around" attitude with no genuine, long-term interest in job/company.
  • Not following up after interview - See our Post-Interview Tips for a sample. 

Not-So-Common Interview Mistakes

  • Not tailoring interview responses to the job and company - Research the job using these resources and the company on How Do I Research Companies?
  • Not researching yourself as well - Know your strengths, skills, knowledge, etc. The Top Ten Reasons to Hire Me exercise can assist you in clarifying your qualifications.
  • Failure to listen - Make mental notes of specifics the interviewer mentions about the job and company. Ask questions later about key points that were mentioned.
  • Failure to answer the question asked - Make sure you understand what is being asked, and get further clarification if you are unsure.
  • Overconfidence in people skills/personality traits at the expense of conveying in depth knowledge of yourself, the job description/requirements, and the company.
  • Failure to develop a summary statement for each of your responses so that the interviewer will know you have finished answering the question asked.
  • Failure to close/end the interview - Have a summary statement about why you're the ideal candidate for the job.