Avoid These 7 Interview Mistakes

Want to ace your next job interview? It's not just about doing the right things. What you don't do can be just as crucial to getting hired.

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(Photo Credit: notionscapital/Flickr)

In particular, don't do any of these things:

1. Show up smelling like anything.

Obviously, you don't want to smell like cigarettes or alcohol, but you also want to avoid scarfing down that big, onion-y sandwich before your meeting, and use breath mints if you've recently indulged in coffee. Also on the skip list: perfume, cologne, and scented products of any kind. What smells fresh and clean to you might smell to the hiring manager like an allergy attack waiting to happen.

2. Wing it.

Before you set foot in the building, you should know with whom you're speaking, what their background is, and most importantly, what the company does and why you're a good fit.

3. Interrupt.

It's not only bad manners, but it indicates that you're a bad listener -- not something most HR people put high on their list of qualities to look for in a potential hire.

4. Be late.

It should go without saying, but just in case: be on time. In fact, if you can, get to the area a little early and wait in a nearby coffee shop, etc. Being late makes you look disorganized or, worse, as if you value your time, but not the interviewer's.

5. Bring anyone or anything who shouldn't be there.

One survey found that as many as 3 percent of Gen Y job applicants brought their parents to job interviews. And then there's the lady who brought her cat with her. Unless you're interviewing with a vet -- and probably even then -- don't do this. Rule of thumb: only people who are interviewing for a job today need to come with you to the office.

6. Fail to ask questions.

"You can count on the fact that almost every interview will end the same way: with your interviewer asking you, 'What questions do you have for me?'" writes Robin Madell at US News' On Careers blog. "A big ball-drop is thinking you’ll just wing this opportunity rather than preparing for it in advance."

Come prepared with a few thoughtful questions and think of points that you'd like clarified that come up during the interview.

7. Go in with your mind made up.

Interviews are all about information gathering and first-impression forming. Your pre-interview research will help you get an idea of what to expect when you go in to meet the hiring manager, but be prepared to take in new information and adjust your perceptions. Listen to your gut, ask thoughtful questions, and be willing to change your mind, for good or for ill, about the job and the company.

Tell Us What You Think

What's the worst mistake you've ever made in an interview? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

6 Comments

  1. 6 Tom 14 Aug
    In 2004 I went to my first tech job interview in 10 years at a prominent tech company (whose name starts with the letter A) wearing a suit and tie. Every interviewer ridiculed me for dressing up (they were all in t-shirts and jeans). Funny how the casual culture had solidified in only 5 or 10 years. I would have felt naked interviewing without a tie in the 1990's. I've learned to dress down for tech job interviews. Button down or polo shirt and slacks at the most...but still, they didn't need to tease me, though it was light-hearted, I still couldn't help feeling as if I had no chance for the job after that, and I didn't get the job...'cultural mismatch' I'm sure they thought.
  2. 5 Jayesh ladwa 14 Aug
    Just for reading ............
  3. 4 Ross 13 Aug
    I saw this tip in an article about bringing a laptop, So I did, and kept it open to take notes and show examples.. The interviewer thought I was paying too much attention to the laptop (I wasn't ) but it didn't go well.. So now I bring it and leave it on, but closed until I need to show an example. (Have several queued up) so I can pop it open and pop it closed right after and take all notes with a pen and paper now...
  4. 3 Edwin 13 Aug
    Perfect advice!
  5. 2 John 13 Aug
    I did not realize my future boss was a poofter The job was great the learning was fantastic the insider trading info he gave me more than tripled my pay But his standing behind me and rubbing against me was not the highlight of my work
  6. 1 tony 13 Aug
    Worst Mistake ever made in an interview. Got caught looking at the person who was interviewing me she was hot caught looking at her butt. Still got hired!!!

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