The 5 Worst Things to Do During a Job Interview

A worker sad and depressed after job interview

A frustrated man at the office | Thinkstock

An interview is often the most important step in securing the job you want.

Even if you have a great resume and you prepare a dynamite cover letter, you probably won’t get the job if you bomb the interview. While some hiring staff might overlook the fact that an interviewee is a bit nervous, and still hire them if they have the right qualifications, the same can’t be said of certain actions during an interview. You want to try your best to be prepared and confident, to dress appropriately, and to have questions ready.

The interview is crucial: regardless of how well the rest of your application goes, making certain comments or actions will most likely completely ruin your chance of getting the job. While there are many mistakes that interviewees make, some are certainly worse than others. Here are five things that you absolutely should not do during a job interview.

1. Show up late or too early

Alarm clock on laptop

Alarm clock on laptop concept for business deadline |

This should be pretty obvious, but people still make the mistake of not leaving enough time to get to their interview. Always give yourself more time than you believe you will actually need to get to the interview. You never know when traffic will be bad, or there will be an accident. Remember that you are trying to prove your worthiness for the job you are interviewing for, and showing up late is a sign of potentially poor behavior in the future. If an emergency comes up, try to call to let the interviewer know. Also, according to CVTips, if you are late, it’s important to promptly explain why.

Remember that it’s also best not to show up too early. If you arrive an hour early for your interview, you risk looking overeager, and you also may inconvenience the staff at the business.

2. Wear inappropriate clothes


Jeans may not be the best job interview choice | Noble

In the long run, the work you perform will matter more than the clothes you wear at your job. However, first impressions matter, so you need to dress appropriately for your interview. Usually a suit is appropriate, but you may need to do some detective work to find out what you should wear; sometimes simply a nice skirt or pants and a nice shirt are enough. Do not show up in jeans or relaxed clothing; don’t overdo your makeup or forget to shave. While your experience should matter more than your clothes, your clothes may be the first thing the interviewer notices, and you want to impress, not distress.

3. Badmouth a previous boss

bad boss yelling

Don’t let bad bosses haunt you | Thinkstock

It can be difficult to explain why you left a previous company or why you are looking to leave, and this is especially true if you have been fired in the past. However, resist the urge to badmouth a previous boss or coworkers. This will make you look catty and difficult to get along with. According to Omni One, even if you feel that your story should invoke sympathy, negative comments won’t go over well. Badmouthing a previous boss makes you look like a negative person. Instead, try to frame your reason for looking for a new job in a positive light.

4. Be unprepared

Woman unprepared

Unprepared and unorganized | Thinkstock

Anyone can come into an interview and get flustered, but being prepared will help you to do the best you can to prove you are a strong candidate for the job. Anticipate possible interview questions based on the position and the company, and prepare answers. Research the company ahead of time and prepare questions to ask. If you don’t have any questions to ask, you will appear more than just unprepared, you will look uninterested.

Also, bring a copy of your resume with you. Even though the person hiring you will probably have a copy, you will look more prepared if you have one with you just in case. Plus, if you really do get tongue-tied, you might be able to sneak a peek at your resume to help get back on track. Also, bring business cards — sometimes an interviewer will ask for one, or you can offer yours if it seems appropriate and if they give you theirs.

5. Respond poorly to the interview questions

Man thinking about job interview questions

Think before you speak | Thinkstock

This might seem like a small issue compared to the other problems on this list, or to other potential problems. While swearing at an interview will certainly get your name crossed off most potential candidate lists, if you answer interview questions poorly, you won’t fare much better. The whole point of an interview is to show what you can do, so failing to give successful answers is possibly the worst mistake of all.

Part of being prepared is anticipating interview questions and coming up with possible answers, but you won’t be able to predict every question. Many candidates get flustered by individual questions, and then they say whatever first comes to their mind. It’s really acceptable to take a minute to think about your response, and to provide a truthful, creative, but also fitting response to the question.

According to Careerism, surprise interview questions are often posed to see how a candidate thinks on their feet; flexibility is often a key skill for an ideal candidate.

Of course, there are many other mistakes that can kill an interview. Don’t be disrespectful, arrogant, or inappropriate. Don’t assume that just because you get along well with the person interviewing you, that you are suddenly good friends or that you should get too personal. Lastly, no matter how poorly you think the interview went, be sure to thank the person who interviewed you. It may have gone much better than you thought, and also, ingratitude will certainly not help you if the interviewer is on the fence about you.

More from Money & Career Cheat Sheet: