Career advice

What not to do at an interview

Your CV and cover letter have got you an interview. The job could easily be yours, so long as you don’t fall at the final hurdles.
Everyone flusters an interview at some stage, but with a little preparation you can avoid falling foul of these common interview blunders:
  • Not being prepared – You might have the skills to do the job but do you know the how the company operates? Check the About Us link on the company website and read their mission statement. Find out who the competition and major players in the market are.
  • Turning up late – Unless you have a very good excuse and ring ahead to rearrange, turning up late for an appointment will not endear you to any employer.
  • Dressing inappropriately – While smart casual might be the current trend, a suit is still proper business etiquette for interviews. It’s all about first impressions.
  • Fidgeting with unnecessary props – Mobile phones, nail files and chewing gum all have one thing in common – they don’t belong at the interview table.
  • Poor body language – Eye contact, good posture, a cheerful demeanour and a firm handshake will take you far in this world, including at an interview.
  • Poor answering and rambling – Take time to think before you answer questions. Avoid bumbling to an uncomfortable halt – it doesn’t inspire confidence.
  • Being negative about current employer – Never complain about your current employer no matter how despotic or ineffectual they are. Badmouthing won’t reflect well on you. 
  • Not asking questions – Employers want to see you’re interested enough to hear more about the post or company and will look kindly on any well placed questions.
  • Lying on your CV – Things have a habit of rising to the surface sooner or later. A fabrication about your work or education record could damage your reputation in the long run.
  • Getting personal or too familiar – Avoid giving sob stories about how much you need the job due to the mountain of debt you’ve accrued. Your personal life does not belong at the interview table.
  • Not bringing along additional CVs – If you’re unsure how many people will be interviewing you, bring along surplus copies of your CV to hand out. It will show that you’re a highly prepared candidate.
  • Sitting down before invited – It’s common courtesy to wait until your shown a seat to sit down. Also avoid slouching or putting your feet anywhere but firmly on the ground.
  • Discussing money or time off – Unless an offer is put on the table it’s not advisable to discuss money or future working and holiday arrangements.
  • Flirting – You’re looking for a job not a date. Don’t behave in a conceited or over familiar manner, it’s not a good look no matter how much you fancy your chances.
  • Cursing – Using foul and inappropriate language is generally not acceptable at any time in the workplace, so, at an interview it won’t win you any accolades.
  • Cutting the interview short – You may have a busy schedule for the day, but make sure you allocate enough time for an interview to run over.
  • Mumbling – the interviewer doesn’t want to have to ask you to repeat an answer or have to strain to hear every word you’re saying.
  • Not following up – you might not think you’ve done a great interview but a simple email reiterating your interest is a courtesy that might just pay off in the long run.
Now you know what not to do at interview, browse Michael Page Jobs to find your next one