February 2, 2016

6 Interview Mistakes That Will Cost You The Job


You have an impressive resume, and you’re certain that you’re a great fit for the position. Unfortunately, that’s no guarantee that you’ll get the job. In my experience, too many job candidates blow their interview opportunities, wasting all that time and effort and squandering any goodwill they may have had.

Don’t be that candidate. Instead, read up on this five common interview mistakes – and then make sure you don’t make them during your next interview.

 1. “Sorry I’m Late …”

It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Good manners go a long way, especially in job interviews.

It’s easy to forget the fundamentals when you’re nervous, so relax. Make sure you’re on time  – and if, for some reason, you’re not going to be on time, always let the interviewer know you will be late as soon as possible. (Of course, the better option is to not be late.) Remember names, be sincere in your thank-yous, always stand up when someone new enters the room (this is a big one!), make eye contact, and offer a firm handshake.

This is basic stuff, but you’d be surprised how many people forget the fundamentals. Even the most qualified candidates lose job opportunities when they overlook the basics of good manners!

2. “My Boss Is a Piece of …”

The interviewer will most likely ask you why you’re leaving – or have already left – your current/most recent position. It’s important that you have a good response to this questions – and doubly important that your response is not negative. Someone who has nothing positive to say about their current/previous employer doesn’t come across as the kind of positive person you want on your team.

SurpriseAt the same time, you don’t want to lie. A big one I come across often is the age-old excuse of “company-wide layoffs.” This kind of stuff is talked about in the HR community. If your current/previous employer went through massive layoffs, we’ll know that. If there were no layoffs, but you say there were, we’ll just assume you were fired for some unsavory reasons you don’t want to disclose – and that’s a major red flag.

3. “So, When Was This Company Founded?”

You should already know the company’s history before walking into the interview. There is nothing worse than a candidate asking a question that could have been answered by a simple Google search. You’ll look underprepared and uninterested in the position.

Instead, you want to ask questions that show you’ve done your homework. Here are a few examples:

– What does the team look like now?

– What would a typical day in the role look like?

– Is this a new role?

– How long have you been at the company, and what’s your favorite thing about it?

– What should I expect in terms in terms of next steps?

4. “Oh, I Thought You’d Print It …”

The necessity of bringing printed copies of your resume to an interview may seem like a bit of a grey area. Sometimes the interviewer will already have a copy on hand, or the interviewer will simply access it via a tablet or computer. Other times, the interviewer will expect you to bring a copy.

Just play it safe and always bring a few copies of your resume with you. You may not need it, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

5. “Sorry I Didn’t Follow Up …”

I’m always happy when the interviewee asks for the contact information of each and every person they interviewed with at the end of the meeting. This shows that the interviewee is not only confident, but also engaged and ready to speak with you again.

StressIf you ask for contact information, make sure you use it. No one looks fondly on a candidate who takes down their email address and then disappears, extending no thank-yous or followup messages.

6. “Yeah, Bro …”

No matter how casual the office atmosphere, you should always stay professional during the interview. I’m lucky enough to work in a relaxed environment, as many digital agencies are, but this doesn’t mean the interviewee can lower their level of professionalism. From attire to manners, it’s a job interview – and you need to treat it that way.

Read more in Interview Tips

Thomas Duffy is a talent recruiter at Blue Fountain Media. Blue Fountain Media is a digital agency in NYC that is focused on creative and results-driven solutions for companies ranging from startups to the Fortune 1,000. Tom leads Blue Fountain Media's talent acquisition team, recruiting new employees in marketing and technology.