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The 9 most common interview mistakes that cost you the job

You got the interview. Congrats! Now the real fun (and pressure) begins … don’t mess things up!

Here are the nine most common interview mistakes that can cost you the job.

Not doing your research

The most common complaint from hiring managers is that candidates don’t do their research about the role and the company.  Why? Hiring managers want enthusiastic people who show initiative, and the best way to demonstrate this during an interview is to come prepared.

“If you haven’t done any research into the company, and you don’t know anything about its products, services, or culture, it’s going to become evident during the course of the conversation,” says Shawn D’Souza, Workopolis’ talent acquisition manager. “This doesn’t mean you have to become an expert in everything the company has ever done, but you should have enough information to ask questions and to demonstrate how you might add value. Preparing yourself tells the hiring manager that you’re taking the opportunity serious, and that you’re truly interested in the role,” he says.

Being late

In simplest terms, you shouldn’t be late to an interview. Ever.

“It definitely is not the best way to make a first impression,” D’Souza says. “It shows a lack of respect for the hiring manager’s time, and even a lack of preparation and organization. That said, we do realize that things happen. You can get stuck in traffic or in a subway delay. If something like that happens, do what you can to get in touch with your interviewer. You can salvage a lot and maintain an appearance of professionalism if you warn them that you will be late.”

Not dressing appropriately

We recently made some suggestions for what to wear to a job interview, but the importance of your appearance bears repeating: you need to dress the part.

“The key thing is to know the company culture. Do they wear suits to the office or t-shirts? Check out the company’s career page and social media profiles for photos of employees and events, and you’ll be able to get a sense of their culture and dress code. Either way, though, business casual is a good way to go, as it ensures you’ll be presentable and professional looking,” D’Souza says.

Not making eye contact

Meeting the interviewer’s gaze is essential to making a good impression.

“If you can’t look your interviewer in the eye it can seem as if you’re lacking in confidence, or even hiding something. I understand that this might be more challenging for people that are shy, but it’s important to make that connection,” D’Souza says.

Talking in clichés
  • “I’m a team player.”
  • “I work too hard.”
  • “I’m a perfectionist.”

Sound familiar? If you’re using these to answer questions like “Tell me about yourself” and “What’s your greatest weakness?” it’s time you put them out to pasture.

“Both sides can sometimes be guilty of using clichés, but just because you’re asked a question like this, it doesn’t mean you have to answer with something obvious and played out. Instead, I think you should look at it as an opportunity to differentiate yourself. Say something real that they haven’t heard before and they will be more likely to remember you,” D’Souza says.

Trash talking your previous employer 

Don’t say negative things about people or companies – no matter how much you feel they deserve it. It makes you look childish and petty, and people don’t want to hire people who are childish and petty.

“If you’re leaving a company because of an issue you had, you can say so, but be diplomatic and professional about it, and more importantly, try to frame it in a way that relates to your career goals and ambition,” D’Souza says.

Not asking questions

At some point the interviewer is going to ask “Do you have any questions for me?” and you should not say “no.”

“Obviously, a lot of this depends on what has been covered already in the interview, but typically, you should have questions prepared or questions about something that was discussed. It speaks to your professionalism and ambition and lets hiring managers know that you are a serious candidate,” D’Souza says.

Playing with your phone

A recent study found that a full third of millennials think it’s acceptable to text during the job interview.

“I spend a lot of time on my phone as well, so I understand the struggle, but you have to put it away for the interview. It’s highly disrespectful to be checking your phone, and it really does not say much for your ability to focus on the task at hand,” D’Souza says.


Fifty-eight percent of employers have caught a candidate in a resume lie, while 31% of people admit to having lied on a resume. That’s a lot of lying. And, if you lie on a resume, you have to keep the lie up during the interview. Don’t do this.

“It’s not worth it. If you get caught – and there’s a good chance you will, as many employers will conduct background checks – you not only won’t get the job, you’ll have wasted everyone’s time, and burned a bridge for the future,” D’Souza says.

There you have it; nine interview mistakes that can cost you the job. Good luck!


The 9 most common interview mistakes that cost you the job

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