Top interview mistakes you need to avoid

After countless applications, time spent reading about then writing a great CV and maybe even sitting through several hours of pre-screening calls, you’ve finally done it and landed yourself an interview. But the hard work doesn’t end here. It can be easy to get complacent at this point and be presumptuous in thinking you’ve done enough to actually land the job itself, but a lack of preparation and poor performance here could be your downfall; no matter how perfect you think you may be for the job.

As recruiters, we get feedback every day from hiring managers and interviews on the performance of candidates in face-to-face interviews. From all of our years of experience, we’ve put together this list of the top interview mistakes you need to avoid.


Inadequate research about the employer

An entire post could be written about the importance of doing this; maybe we will! Failing to your research pre-interview not only demonstrates to the interviewer that you’re not that interested in the vacancy but also that you’re disorganized and not passionate about the business; all of these are absolute red flags for employers.

This is easier said than done, though, what is it exactly that you should find about the company pre-interview?

  • ‘About us’ – Why does the company exist? What are their objectives or purpose? You need to understand what sets the company apart from their competitors and what their core values are. Bonus points for being able to associate their core values with your own!
  • Financial health – Whilst there is no benefit to being able to rattle off the share prices, knowing where the company is in terms of size & competitiveness will enable you to have an understanding of where they expect to be in the future
  • Competition – Who are the competitors in the market? Why do they present a challenge to the company? Not only does this demonstrate your understanding of the competitive landscape, but also that you’ll take the time to do your homework

Not showing enough interest or enthusiasm

Regardless of whether or not you have the qualifications for the job, critically, the interviewer wants to see that you care about the job more than just a 9-5. You should be able to show and say why you care about working for that company and be willing to fight your corner if challenged on your suitability for the job. Often an interviewer will challenge you like this to light a fire under you and get you showing passion for the job and for the company.

However, demonstrating enthusiasm also comes down to how to you manage non-verbal communication in the interview. Positive body language is arguably as critical as what you say and your experience. Do any of the following and you could appear unenthusiastic for the job:

  • Fail to make eye contact
  • Don’t smile
  • Have a poor posture
  • Fidget too much
  • Cross your arms when speaking

Concentrating too much on what you want

The purpose of a job interview is for the business see if a) you have the relevant experience b) your personality is a good company fit and c) what you want to offer the company.

Whilst it’s important to learn about progression, personal development and opportunities the company can offer you, the focus should always be on what value you offer to the company in return. Why should they sacrifice budget to pay you and what will they get in return for that investment. You should pre-prepare what it is you feel you offer to the business that no one else can and why your personal values and the companies are well suited.

‘Winging it’

There’s so much content available to you about job interviews that if you read enough, you could probably rattle off the most common interview answers and do relatively well. However, ‘winging it’ is always a risky strategy; most interviewers will see straight through this. You should be willing to think about all of the possible questions that might come up and write down how you would answer that question. You could get lucky and ‘wing it’ but it’s a risky strategy and more often than not, you’ll get caught out by a skilled interviewer who realises you don’t actually know your stuff.

Failing to set yourself apart from other candidates

There’s always options in the labour market, the purpose of the interview is to prove that you’re better than the competition. 

By getting to the interview stage, this proves that you have the relevant skills and experience. At this point, the employer is trying to find out what sets you apart from equally talented individuals. Maybe it’s a proven track record in problem-solving, an unmatched ability to learn new skills quickly or a natural talent for building rapport with clients. Whatever it is, you need to nail it down early in the interview and make it clear that you are unique and that what you can offer is a valuable commodity.

Revealing too much personal information

This should go without saying but always keep a boundary between your professional and personal life. If you think something happening in your personal life will affect your ability to do the job, wait until you get an offer and explain it then. At this point, the employer has decided that they want to hire you and can decide if what you’ve told them will change their decision. For example, relationship or family troubles are not an appropriate conversation topic for a professional job interview.


There you have it, the top interview mistakes and what you can do to avoid them. Ready to make your next career move? Check out our job board or get in touch with our expert recruiters today.