The Top 5 Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

The Top Five Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Interviews are naturally high-pressure situations. For many people, interviews are some of the most nerve-wracking and stressful situations they find themselves in. However, they are a normal part of nearly every hiring process and is therefore something almost everyone must go through at least once in their lives. 

Most people who under-perform in interviews do so because of nerves or they make the same common mistakes. To help you best prepare for your next interview, I’ve outlined the top five most common mistakes people make in their interviews, so you can avoid them.

1. Being Unprepared 

You can never be over-prepared for an interview. You should always go into an interview confident in your knowledge of the business, and the role you have applied for. This means you should be reading up on the company’s background, its competitors, and its key employees before you go to your interview. If you go into that interview with no information on the company or the role, you will come across as lazy or uninterested in the role. 

Preparedness is about more than knowing the business, it’s also about planning ahead for your journey to ensure you avoid any unnecessary delays and mitigate the risk of being late. Showcase yourself in the best light by ensuring you arrive on time. Planning ahead will also help you stay calm and collected on the morning of your interview, so you can head into your interview in the best possible headspace. It's also a good idea to have copies of your CV to hand, as well as a notepad and a pen to take any notes about the business. This will portray you as organised and interested in the role.

If you’re interviewing via video call, make sure you are dressed and have all of your technology set up ahead of time, so that you’re fully prepared and ready to start when at your interview start time. Make sure you have tested all your equipment to ensure it’s all working.

2. Misjudging Dress Code

First impressions matter. That includes how you present yourself. This isn’t to say you have to spend a small fortune on a suit and tie for an interview. You simply need to present yourself as smart and tidy, so you look professional. Making sure your shirt is ironed and hair is combed goes a long way!

If you know the type of company well, this can often give an indicator on how to dress. Some companies will be more relaxed than others.  However, if you’re in doubt, it’s better to go over-formal than too casual and look like you haven’t put the effort in. 

3. Over- or Under-Talking

When you’re nervous it’s natural for many people to either close up and be quiet, or babble. It’s key to find a good balance to make sure you’re giving enough information and selling your skills adequately, without just waffling. 

Each time you are asked a question, it’s good practice to pause and gather your thoughts before responding. This helps you structure your answer so that you can respond clearly and coherently, making all the points you need to in a concise manner.

Not giving enough information is also an issue. If you’re someone who clams up when you get nervous, the best thing to do is research common questions and practice your answers to them, so you can go into your interview confident in your answers. There’s nothing worse than coming out of an interview thinking of all the things you should have said but didn’t.

If your mind does go bank in an interview, try not to panic. It’s happened to everyone. Your interviewer knows and understands that people get nervous in these high-pressure situations. Just take a deep breath and ask to come back to it. 

4. Being Overcritical of Previous Employers

One of the worst things you can do is berate your current or previous employer or colleagues. It gives a really negative impression of you and may portray you as someone who is problematic or a trouble causer. Even if you have left, or are leaving, an employer on bad terms, be diplomatic and neutral when explaining your reasoning. Use examples to showcase how you have overcome challenges and obstacles, but refrain from talking negatively about specific people and businesses. 

At the end of the day you never know who knows other people in the industry, and if you end up talking badly about that interviewers friend or relative accidentally, likelihood is, you’re not going to get the job.

Always be mindful and put a positive spin on any negative experiences with other businesses.

5. Not Asking Any Questions

Based on your research you should always have a couple of questions to ask the hiring manager who is interviewing you. This could be about specific projects the business is working on, future business plans, growth trajectories, or personal development opportunities. If the recruiter asks, “Do you have any questions?” and you respond with “no”, it makes you look disinterested and could indicate a lack of genuine desire to join the business. 

Never ask basic questions that you should already know the answer to, such as what the business does, or anything that has already been covered in the interview. The best idea is to go into the interview with 2 – 3 questions, with the intention of asking two of them so that you always have a back-up.

6. Ready to Excel in Your Next Interview

Conquering your interview nerves is often easier said than done, but it’s important to learn how to prepare and compose yourself ahead of time. High pressure situations affect people in different ways, but preparing and practising definitely helps, and with experience, interviews will become less daunting and more exciting. 

Starting with the basics always helps too; being polite, enthusiastic, making regular eye contact with all interviewers, and smiling. These are all basic things that set you up for a great interview and for leaving a lasting positive impression. 


Ready for your next step? Maxwell Bond are recruiting for dedicated, driven, and passionate people at all levels, who are looking to nurture their skills and excel their career in a people-first company. Want to know more? Get in touch or browse our current opportunities.