Five Big Interview Mistakes That Could Cost You The Job Offer


In order to identify interview mistakes, we need to first define interview success. Interviewing is two strangers (or more) meeting for the first time who hopefully click.  When you arrive prepared, confident, and qualified this sets the stage for decision makers to want to hire you.

We have been privy to some interview horror stories–including one where the candidate changed into his suit in the parking lot in full view of the first-floor office that would be meeting him. This interview mistake could have been avoided had the candidate observed the 1-mile rule: be presentable (read: wear clothes) within proximity of your future employer.

Now that’s an extreme example. Here’s are five common interview mistakes people make all the time.

Interview Mistakes


1.) Remind Yourself Who’s #1  At The Interview

The answer is not you, but everyone else. This is particularly true in IT and technical roles where problem solving and collaborative mindset are imperative skills. Be of service to the interviewer(s) by seeing your candidacy from their perspective. Be kind and courteous to everyone from the appointment setter to the receptionist to employees who may end up being your direct report.

Across the Table – The Hiring Manager’s Perspective

  • They are seeking a candidate of value who will provide them with the quickest return on their investment.
  • They need to get a sense of whether your personality will fit with the team, and whether your skills will fit the projects.
  • They need to justify your candidacy to other decision makers and HR.

During this interview, your job is to provide the interviewer(s) with both qualitative (your story) and quantitative data in their assessment.  Provide them with the information they need to accurately and concisely summarize your background and skills.

2.) Misrepresenting Yourself or Your Skills

There is no such thing as a “white lie” when you are in a job search.  Stick to the facts and never compromise your integrity.  While you should customize your resume for different opportunities, be wary of misrepresenting yourself and your skills. If an employer finds any inconsistencies in your application when they conduct a background check, the resulting loss of integrity means you are no longer a contender for the position.

3.) Criticizing Past Employers

Job seekers may inadvertently become defensive about instances in which they were terminated or laid off, and this can lead to unintentionally badmouthing their past employers. This can impact your ability to discuss your career as a growth-minded, forward-thinking professional.

It’s important to state the facts from a big picture perspective. Equally important is that you believe in your value and that a successful career is never without its downturns and struggles. Almost everyone, including the people who are interviewing you, can relate.

Check out these article for reference.

How To Bounce Back After Getting Laid Off, Harvard Business Review  

What To Say About Getting Fired, Snagajob

Onward and upward!

4.) Lack of Enthusiasm

I can’t tell you the number of times post-interview when the hiring authority reports that the candidate lacked excitement for the position. We make it a point not to present candidates who aren’t absolutely enthusiastic about the role, and we also recognize that professionals shift into another ‘gear’ when they interview for a potential employer. Some people freeze or rationalize that they can’t be both professional and eager—resulting in coming across as boring or reserved.

Just member, the company is investing in your passion and your enthusiasm for this job. Your unique perspective and supportive understanding of the company’s goals is a huge part of what you are offering the company.

5.) Not Asking For The Job 

Remember to close the deal that you came to make. All interviews come to a natural end, and it’s your responsibility to get in a word about why you are the right candidate. Don’t put this responsibility on the interviewer(s).

Look back at Remember Who’s #1: their job is not to hire you, their job is to hire the right person–and that includes disqualifying you so they can focus on other candidates. Close on your candidacy because no one else will do it for you!

How To Close FTW

Thank the interviewer and reaffirm your continued interest in the opportunity–name two ways you can immediately contribute to the company. Share the ways that this role aligns with your professional and personal goals.

For the bold: Ask, “Is there anything about my application that concerns you?” Don’t get defensive. Be strategic. You can then spend the remaining time overcoming those objections.

Offer to share evidence of your work (an article you’ve written or online portfolio, etc.) and ask for their business card. This enables you to send a thank you/follow-up email.

Note: If you are working with a staffing agency, recruiters would appreciate that you send the communication through them, as a courtesy. We can also provide feedback on your letter!


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