7 Career Destroying Mistakes You’re Making in Your Job Interview

Interviewing for most jobs isn’t hard. But when the pressure is on, we make things more complicated than they need to be. This is especially true with job interviews. As a rule, many candidates make the same mistakes, over and over. And these mistakes are destroying your career.

Remember, the hiring manager has done interviewers too. They understand and respect the position you are in. Nobody is expecting perfection. After all, we are all human.

But if you can avoid the mistakes that so many job candidates make, you'll instantly find yourself ahead of your competition.

Mistake #1: You Lack Confidence

Interviewers quickly recognize when you lack confidence in yourself. Maybe you don’t make eye contact. Or, perhaps, you’re giving weak answers to pointed questions about your qualifications. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, the hiring manager won’t either.

Walk into the interview with a smile on your face. Make eye contact whenever you can and deliver strong and direct answers. This will make a good impression on your interviewers from the beginning, drastically increasing your chances of getting hired.

Mistake #2: You Didn’t Dress Well

A full suit isn’t always necessary, but it’s easy to pick out job candidates who didn’t bother dressing up at all. It is disrespectful to come to an interview in jeans and a t-shirt. This is one of the easiest mistakes to avoid because it doesn’t take a lot of effort to dress up for an interview.

No one has ever thought less of a candidate because they overdressed.

Do some research on the dress code of the employer. If you’re unsure, opt for more formal attire. For men, this includes a two-piece suit in dark colors over a light-colored button-down shirt. A tie may not be required but it can help. Wear socks that match.

For women, wear a dark-colored knee-length skirt or a pantsuit. Keep jewelry minimal. Closed-toed shoes are best, and avoid carrying large handbags whenever possible.

Mistake #3: You Lie About Your Weaknesses

A common question that hiring managers will ask during interviews is, “What are your biggest weaknesses?” But here’s a secret about this question: Your interviewers likely don’t care what your weaknesses are. They’re asking this question to determine your honesty.

The best way to answer this question is honestly. Answer the question, then follow up your answer with what you’re doing to correct the problem.

For instance: “I tend to overthink problems and fall behind on my work. To help fix this, I’m asking more questions about my assignments and going with my gut feeling, which is very often right.”

Mistake #4: You Lied on Your Resume

Everything on your resume is fair game for questions during the interview. If you put a skill on your resume, be prepared to answer questions about it.

Just because you’ve been exposed to a software product or business process doesn’t mean you have expertise in it. Many Human Resources personnel and recruiters will randomly ask questions about skills listed on the resume, even if those skills didn’t directly apply to the job. Why? Because just like asking about weaknesses, they're judging a candidate's honesty. If you lied on your resume, there’s a good chance that you will lie on the job.

Mistake #5: You Forgot to Silence Your Phone

Nothing interrupts an interview quite like a ringing cell phone, or any other type of notification. Even if you don’t answer the phone during the interview – a huge red flag to avoid – the damage has already been done.

Leave the phone in your car for the interview’s duration so there is no chance of a notification.  Notifications will disrupt the interview. If you absolutely must bring your phone with you, then don’t forget to silence the phone, including vibrations.

Mistake #6: You Wear Too Much Cologne or Perfume

Speaking of distractions, wearing too much cologne or perfume distracts your interviewers. If the recruiter can smell you coming down the hall, it's too much.

It’s okay to wear some cologne or perfume but resist the temptation to put too much on. Instead, put on what you would typically use. Your interviewers will appreciate your discretion.

Mistake #7: You Get to The Interview on Time

Wait, shouldn’t we always aim to get to the interview on time?

No. You should always get to the interview early. Getting there early allows you to survey your environment, collect yourself, and do any last-minute preparations before the interview. The last thing you want to do is walk into the interview room out of breath or disheveled because you rushed to avoid being late.

Don’t rush to the interview. Aim to get there at least 15 minutes early.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.


Steve Adcock is an early retiree who writes about mental toughness, financial independence and how to get the most out of your life and career. As a regular contributor to The Ladders, CBS MarketWatch and CNBC, Adcock maintains a rare and exclusive voice as a career expert, consistently offering actionable counseling to thousands of readers who want to level-up their lives, careers, and freedom. Adcock's main areas of coverage include money, personal finance, lifestyle, and digital nomad advice. Steve lives in a 100% off-grid solar home in the middle of the Arizona desert and writes on his own website at SteveAdcock.us.