College and University Blog

Top 10 Worst Job Interview Mistakes

Despite recent optimistic statistics claiming that employers are expected to hire more college graduates in 2012 than last year, the Associated Press reports that half of our country’s young adults with bachelor’s degrees are unemployed or underemployed.

If your resume leads to an in-person interview, consider yourself fortunate but remember that multiple job candidates are most likely being considered for the position. Far too often, job seekers make simple mistakes they could have avoided. Remember the following common interview mistakes as you begin your quest for the perfect job!

1. Arriving late.

Sneaking into class 15 minutes late might have been okay during college, but it’s not a great idea in the workplace—especially before you’ve even been hired! Don’t forget that the person who is interviewing you is on a schedule. If you arrive late, you are disrupting their schedule for the rest of the day and most likely throwing your chances of being hired out the window. Peter Post, author of The Etiquette Advantage in Business, recommends arriving right on time. Showing up too early can also be awkward for the interviewer or their assistant, so if you get to the interview more than 10 minutes early, wait in your car or a nearby shop or restaurant.

2. Dressing inappropriately.

Your resume helped form a prospective employer’s initial opinion of you. Don’t make them change their mind as soon as you walk in the door by wearing a miniskirt, ripped jeans or flip flops. Although many companies have a business casual dress policy that is more lenient than office attire of the past, people often make the mistake of under-dressing or over-dressing for job interviews. Lindsay Olson of U.S. News and World Report recommends leaving the nose ring at home, wearing subtle colors and dressing for the company’s culture, even stating that it’s fine to ask a hiring manager about the office dress code. You also want to make sure your outfit is current—as opposed to the dress you wore to a wedding when you were fourteen or your dad’s old suit—and clean. No stains or holes!

3. Answering the phone or texting during the interview.

In a recent nationwide survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 77 percent of hiring managers polled said that answering a cell phone or texting during an interview is the most common mistake that can slash your chances of getting the job. If you must bring your phone into an interview, turn it off—yes, people can hear the vibrate function—and stick it in your purse or briefcase.

4. Badmouthing former employers or co-workers.

You’ll most likely be asked about your previous work experience during a job interview. Even though we all know bad managers and coworkers do exist, don’t speak negatively about anyone. U.S. News and World Report’s Alison Green explains that badmouthing former employers during a job interview raises all kinds of questions about you and even causes interviewers to wonder what things you might say about them one day!

5. Lying.

Everyone tries to paint a prettier picture of themselves during job interviews, but outright lying is a no-no. Alan Guinn of The Guinn Consultancy Group suggests “positioning your answers so that you are the responsible party rather than the one to blame.” If you were fired, be up-front about it. If you have something criminal on your record from years and years ago, fess up.

6. Being unprepared.

Before your big interview, revisit your prospective employer’s website and do some research. Learn what the company does and why they do it. recommends reading and understanding the company’s mission statement and suggests searching the Internet for mentions of the company in press releases or recent news articles. If the company’s website has a search tool or biography pages, see if you can find information about the person who is interviewing you. There’s no need to memorize every tiny detail about a company and its history, but arriving at an interview without any idea what goes on there is a bad idea.

7. Talking too much.

Job interviews can cause major stomach butterflies. Some people clam up when they are nervous, but others just can’t shut up. Although you want to answer an interviewer’s questions completely and make yourself stand out from the crowd, talking too much or asking too many questions of your own does more harm than good. “When they say at the end, ‘do you have any questions for me,’ the answer should be ‘no, I’m really excited about this opportunity and I think it’s going to be a great fit.’ You want to sell it instead,” career strategist Cynthia Shapiro told Fox News.

8. Acting arrogant or appearing bored.

Having self confidence is one thing, but acting like you’re better than everyone around you is another. AOL Jobs highlighted’s 2011 Interview Mistakes survey and a whopping 66 percent of hiring managers revealed that appearing arrogant was a frequent interview mistake that kept them from hiring an applicant. You might have a shiny new college degree, but that doesn’t mean you’re mightier than everyone else in the world.

9. Chewing gum.

With 59 percent of poll respondents listing it as an interview blunder, chewing gum rated nearly as poorly on CareerBuilder’s 2011 survey as appearing arrogant. That said, snapping gum or blowing bubbles while you’re being questioned about your merits isn’t a wise idea. If you’re worried about your breath, pop a mint before the interview.

10. Whining about your job search.

If you’ve been job hunting for months without success, leave the complaints about the economy to your friends and family. Dan Miranda of Bankrate suggests emphasizing why you’re the perfect job candidate rather than complaining and states that even if the interviewer seems sympathetic, “don’t blather.” Job Board

Are you searching for a new job? Now that you’ve reviewed these job interview mistakes, be sure to visit the Job Board, where you can post your resume for prospective employers and search jobs by category, type and location.


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.