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Costly Interview Mistakes

Following are some common errors made during interviews that rank high on recruiters’ lists of job interview “deal breakers.”

Being Late

Make it to the interview on time. If you must be late for an unavoidable reason, call the employer as soon as you can and tell them when you expect to be there. Ask if it would be easier to reschedule the interview. When you finally do arrive, apologize immediately, then get on with the interview. Don’t dwell on the fact or apologize again. That will only reinforce the mistake in the employer’s mind.

Inappropriate Appearance

Lose the body jewelry. Cut back on the makeup and perfume. Wear a conservative suit. Don’t experiment with fashion or wear something overly casual, even if the employer promotes casual dress in their workplace. Poor hair and grooming habits are definite interview killers.


Be nice. Don’t be rude, haughty or pretentious. While this advice might seem obvious, you’d be surprised how many people let their bad attitude show. While it’s great to describe your accomplishments and skills, don’t cross the line into bragging. Don’t discredit former supervisors or co-workers. Leave your ego at the door.

No Knowledge About the Job or the Employer

Do your research. Employers are rarely impressed with candidates who don’t bother to take the time to learn at least some basic facts about the job or the employer. Why should they be?

Lack of Focus or Interest in the Job or Employer

Candidates who don’t express a genuine interest in the job rarely do well in the interview process. While you may not be interviewing for the “ideal” job, try to keep an open mind, and show the interviewer that you are willing to lean more about the opportunity. You need to “sell” yourself in an interview, and not just take the time for granted. Learn as much as you can about the job and interview with the employer only if you really want to work there.

Inappropriate Humor

Jokes, sarcasm, and funny comments might produce laughs, but they don’t mix well with interviews. Don’t use humor to break the ice. You never know how your interviewer will react. What is funny to one person may be offensive to another individual.

Poor Posture and Body Language

Sit up straight in the chair, make eye contact when you speak, and smile. Slouching in a chair, avoiding eye contact, or appearing nervous and ill at ease will give the recruiter the impression that you can’t interact well with others or are uncomfortable under pressure.

Some final advice:

If you have any reason to wonder if something you do or say will be taken the right way during an interview, just remember this simple test: Put yourself in the recruiter’s place. Ask yourself: “How would I react?” Chances are, your action or response will be the same as you would expect from the interviewer. People are not really all that different, and they generally will respond in very similar ways.