Business Columns & Blogs

16 job interview mistakes you can’t afford to make

In His Own Words

According to at least one recruitment expert, it takes, on average, 14 initial interviews to eventually get a job offer.

One major reason for the high number of interviews is that most candidates typically make several common mistakes. These are the blunders that happen in so many interviews that they “contaminate” any chance of getting hired.

Yet, all of these common mistakes have one thing in common: They can be controlled by you.

Knowing the miscues that frequently infect job interviews gives applicants the power to address those issues beforehand. Let your mistakes be your guide for a more successful interview.

Here are 16 common mistakes to avoid:

▪ If you spend any time on your cellphone in the waiting area or during an interview, you will be sending a powerful message to the interviewer: My business is more important than your business.

▪ One recent report showed that 50 percent of job candidates were tardy for their interviews. If you really want the job, you’ll really be on time.

▪ Candidates who glance around the room, avoid the eyes of the interviewer, or stare at the aquarium behind the interviewer’s desk are seen as insecure, unsure and unconnected.

▪ Make sure you can be easily heard from a distance of about five to six feet – the average distance between a person behind a desk and one in front of the desk.

▪ No blabbing permitted. Most professional interviewers suggest that the ideal answer to a question should be no shorter than 30 seconds and no longer than two minutes.

▪ Can you believe that, in order to make a point, some candidates actually argue with the interviewer? One word: Don’t.

▪ Many candidates neglect to respond to the one question always in the mind of every interviewer: How will this person make my job easier? The question will never be asked out loud, but you must always answer it.

▪ Some people try to compensate for the stress of an interview by being arrogant or haughty. It’s one thing to be confident, quite another to be arrogant. Be the former, not the latter.

▪ Many professional interviewers think that asking questions in an interview is more important than answering them. Don’t make the fatal mistake, when asked whether you have any questions, of saying, “No, not really. I think we’ve covered pretty much everything.”

▪ Listening to someone with a negative attitude is always a drain. Interviewers don’t hire “bad attitudes” – they want people with a positive outlook and an engaging personality.

▪ When asked a question it is expected you will provide the interviewer with specific details and explanations. Very rarely will you ever be asked a question that requires a simple “Yes” or “No.”

▪ Conduct some research on the company (many will not). What is its overall philosophy? How long has it been in business? What are its long-range goals? Get to know the company and it, very likely, will want to get to know you.

▪ You’re not being very honest when you give answers you don’t believe in. Your objective is not to satisfy an interviewer; rather, your objective is to showcase how your unique talents and attitudes will make a positive difference in the life of the company.

▪ Slouch in your chair, fold your arms across your chest, fiddle with your car keys, never smile, never make eye contact, and the interviewer knows a lot about you (unfortunately, it’s all negative) without even listening to your responses.

▪ An interview is a conversation. If you spend too much time focused on what you want to say and not enough time on listening to what the interviewer is saying, you’ll be involved in a non-productive exchange.

▪ Interviewers want to know whether you have a detailed road map of where you would like to be in the future. If all you want is a job, then you’ll be like thousands of other candidates – always looking for one.

Remember: The interviewer is not interested in hiring you. He or she is interested in hiring the best-qualified individual for the position.

My best advice: Assist the interviewer by keeping the focus off you and directly on the positive contributions you can make to the company.

Anthony D. Fredericks is author of “Ace Your Teacher Interview: 149 Fantastic Answers to Tough Interview Questions (2nd Ed.).” For more helpful tips, news, resources and information, go to

Interested in writing for “Business Perspectives”? Contact Tom Shine at or 316-268-6268.