Common interview mistakes


By Grant J Everett

We’d love all the people who access our services to feel capable of pursuing open employment. A big part of that will involve nailing a job interview. And while trying to convince an employer that you’re the best choice for the job may seem daunting, we hope this guide can help manage those butterflies.


So you’ve already sent out a bunch of resumes with personalised cover letters. This is a long and frustrating process and is no fun at all. But just when it seems like every worthwhile position in the country is beyond your reach, you’ll get a glimmer of hope: it’s a reply from a potential employer, and they want to interview you.

Despite how important it is to give the best possible impression in the upcoming interview, many jobseekers will ruin their chances by making some really, really basic mistakes. Worse yet, they may not even register where it went wrong.


You’ll need to prepare a few things in advance. To start with, if you’re able to create a resume in a word processor and email it to a potential employer, then you are also capable of doing some basic research. You’ll need to know your interviewer’s name, what the company is called, what the company does, the role you are applying for, and so on. You also need to bring all the relevant paperwork, such as multiple copies of your resume, a portfolio of your past work, and a current list of references.

During the interview you may be asked some questions that focus on your work history or where you see yourself in five years, so get some possible answers ready. Finally, put together two questions you’d like to ask the interviewer when the opportunity inevitably arises.

Looking good

Chefs say, “The first taste is with the eyes,” and this also goes for job interviews. In my very worst interview experience, everybody who turned up on that day were dressed up in tailored Italian suits…while I was wearing an undersized Lowes shirt, jeans and beat-up sneakers. Suffice to say, I bombed before saying a word.

On the flipside, you shouldn’t overdress, either. But how are you meant to balance on this thin tightrope? Simple: just visit the office beforehand to see how everyone looks, then top them. Are they wearing double breasted suits and shiny black shoes? Are they cleanly shaven? Use this as your template.


The big moment

So now it’s interview time. First, introduce yourself to the interviewer in a friendly, open manner with a handshake. Your mannerisms will all matter, so if you don’t make eye contact it will raise doubts about your confidence, if you walk around with your mouth hanging open you’ll look brain-dead, and so on.

Like we’ve said, it’s easy to make a lot of thoughtless mistakes in an interview, so a good gauge is to ask yourself: “Would I get away with this with my strictest high school teacher?” So turn off your phone, don’t bring food or drinks, don’t chew gum, don’t show up stoned, tired or sick, don’t wear a hat or sunglasses, don’t play with your hair, don’t tell jokes (even really funny ones), and sit up straight and pay attention. In one tragic interview I kept casually referring to the interviewer as “man,” which is only appropriate in Cheech and Chong movies, so don’t do that, either.

And while I’m sure everyone would like to know how much the job pays, money questions are inappropriate at this point. This includes bringing up anything about benefits, time off, holidays and other things that should be attended to AFTER you get the job. If the interviewer raises it, fine, talk about it, but raising the issue out of the blue can make you appear desperate. Another big no-no is stabbing your old company in the back during the interview. It’s really not a good look.

Pants on fire?

If you pretend to have skills that you don’t actually possess, it’s only a matter of time until you come undone. This is why you shouldn’t fudge your resume, even though it’s portrayed as being something that everybody does. Beyond the fact that lying is wrong, you’ll only be making things complicated for yourself.

After the interview

Thank the interviewer for their time. Smile, shake their hand again and leave. Send them a thank you note later. No matter how badly the interview went, don’t write it in blood.


Alison Doyle


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