The interview mistakes you're making

Last updated: July 22, 2024
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Lara Grant
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The interview mistakes you're making
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An interview can make or break your chances of getting hired. This is the part of the hiring process where you can really stand out and make your case for why you deserve the job over other candidates. But, it’s also easy to make a mistake that will cost you the job.

Here are some common interview mistakes you may be making, and what to do instead so you can feel confident and nail that interview.

**Note that some of these are specific to in-person interviews. Here are 7 tips for acing a virtual interview! **

Arriving late or too early

Arriving late to an interview immediately sets the meeting on the wrong foot, making it appear like you don’t care about the job or have poor time management. Aim to arrive between 10 and 15 minutes before the interview starts, as this shows that you’re reliable and excited about the position.

Since you can’t control traffic and public transportation, cushion extra time into to your commute to ensure you’re there on schedule.

If you arrive more than 15 minutes before the planned interview, either wait in your car or walk around the block – this is also a great way to get out pre-interview nerves – since most employers may find it inconvenient if you show up too early.

Hear directly from the Jobcase community:

How early do you arrive for an interview?
- Mark Bryan, Jobcase member

Not bringing the right materials

You should bring all relevant materials in a bag or briefcase to your interview.

  • Resume: Ideally the employer will have printed out your resume to have on hand, but don’t plan on it. Plus, you may be meeting with more than one person during the interview, and you want each person to have a copy of your resume. Print out several extra copies and keep them in a folder so they won’t get bent or crumpled.

  • Notepad/pen: There will likely be some things you want to jot down during the interview – specifics about the job, hours and start date, or anything that stands out as interesting or worth following up on during the interview. Don’t be the person that has to ask the interviewer for a pen.

  • Portfolio/clips: Professions where this is common are writing, graphic design, photography, software development, and cosmetology. If it’s relevant to your profession and the job, bring in a portfolio with samples of your work.

Not being prepared

There are several ways you can appear unprepared in an interview.

Not knowing much about the position or company

First and foremost, you should know a good deal of information about the company and the position you’re applying for, even if you’ll be learning more at the interview.

Serious applicants spend a couple of hours browsing the company website and reading any other company information on the internet that may be helpful.

Not having prepared answers for common questions

There are some questions that most interviewers will always ask -- "Why are you interested in this job?" or "What makes you a good fit for this role?" for example. Go through a list of common interviewer questions and practice how you would respond.

Tough interview questions? Here's how to respond

Not having questions to ask the interviewer

An interview should not be just one person asking questions the whole time. As a potential hire, you should also be asking relevant questions about the job, company, interviewer's experience, etc.

Asking questions helps show you're engaged and interested in the job, and it can help you determine if the job is a good fit. Ask questions throughout the conversation, instead of waiting until the end of the interview.

For more interview questions and answers 

Not following up correctly

You should always send a follow-up note thanking all interviewers for their time. Send an email within 24 hours of the interview, as this reiterates your interest in the job and helps keep you top of mind while the employer makes hiring decisions.

Be sure it is personalized, includes a thank you, reiterates your interest and relevant qualifications, and provides an offer to help with next steps.

Read everything you need to know about sending a thank you note to an interviewer here

What mistakes have you made during an interview?



Keith Kolbe
Bullet point

As someone in the design area of the construction industry and having a father who was a tradesman, follow-up questions are easy for me. "Do I have the ability to talk to the people actually doing the work if I have a question?" is at the top. I have never been asked any stupid theoretical questions. The closest thing in my field is taking a drafting test. Thirty-five years should count for something. The only difference is that now I have to remember to take my reading glasses with me. I can still do things in areas that new grads don't have a clue.

Desiree Crawford
Bullet point
Animal Behavior Consultant

As a former manager who seeks to re-enter the work force after several years of family caregiving, thanks for this article, as I can see it from both sides of the interview process. I hope the trend toward disarming questions (why is a manhole cover round? Of course, so it can't fall in) has run its course. It distracts from the core purpose of the interview: why does the applicant want to work here? What do they have to offer? What do we have to offer them?