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What are the worst things you can do in an interview?

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Sometimes things just don’t go your way! You can do hours of preparation and plan for every possible situation, but ultimately it is out of your control and something goes amiss. Take a job interview. All it needs is someone with a little bit more experience to come along at the last minute, and you might miss out to them.

But some elements are under your control and can give you the best possible shot of success. However not everyone thinks like this! Here are some of the worst things that you need to avoid when going for interviews.

Turn up for the interview late – or not turn up at all!

The first thing that is going to set a bad tone is if you turn up late. Whether it is a doctor’s appointment or waiting for the train, no one likes to be kept waiting. Well imagine how a prospective new employer is going to feel if someone shows up 25 minutes late, and then asks them for a job?!

You are going to have to do an unbelievable interview to even stand a chance of being in consideration. Even a reasonable hiring manager will just think you are unprofessional and cannot be that bothered about the role.

However, somethings can be out of your control. You may get stuck on the train or there may be unexpected road closures. In this instance always try to contact the company you are meeting with and explain what has happened.

Their time is precious, and they will always appreciate being told, and are much more likely to re-arrange or make plans later that day to accommodate you. If you do arrive, always make sure to apologise and thank them for their time. And what if you don’t even turn up? Do, I need to even say anymore?!

Turning up in a sweaty mess

It is a shame, but some people do not follow the adage of ‘never judge a book by its cover’. If you turn up all sweaty or smelling bad, that is going to create a bad first impression with the company.

They might think this is what you are always like and may question if you would suit their company and client cultures. Office and dress cultures might be steadily shifting, but always show up sharp and presentable.

When you are travelling to an interview, give yourself enough time that you won’t be arriving rushed and panicked. If possible, it might be that you arrive about half an hour early and go to a local café to prepare and get ready.

This way you could have last little review of the key details and then change into more suitable interview attire. Now you haven’t got to feel conscious of arriving at the interview looking panicked and ill-prepared.

Saying something different to your CV

A big thing to avoid is saying something different to what is on your CV. Usually this can revolve around dates of employment or your skill sets. If your CV says one thing, but you say something else to the hiring manager, whilst your CV is in front of them, it can create a huge element of doubt in their head.

For instance, saying you worked at Company X for seven months, when your CV says four months, will not go down well. After all, only one set of dates can be right! Sometimes it might be a genuine mistake and slip of the tongue. But if it isn’t, it can make things really awkward when the interviewer follows up on it!

Not knowing who you are meeting with

Clients and employers are usually realists. They know ‘good’ candidates are likely attending multiple interviews with their competitors. But if you turn up to one interview and start mistakenly talking about completely irrelevant details concerning another company, you might as well write off any chances of success. It just makes it look like you are not bothered about this interview or them as a company. Stay focused on what is in front of you.

Moaning about your current employer

Your current boss might well be a real-life David Brent and a bit of a nightmare. However, the interviewer does not want or need to hear this. You can rip them to shreds all you like, but all the interviewer will be thinking is that “if they moan this much about them, surely they will about us in a few months’ time”.

Even if you are perfectly qualified for the role, they will question whether you will fit within the team or their clients, and may opt for a less experienced candidate with a better attitude instead.


No, I don’t mean ramble as in walking (but don’t get up and start walking around either!). In an interview, you will always get asked a couple of questions that you are not completely clear on.

Try to stick to sharp, concise answers, whilst still allowing your personality to come through. If someone starts ‘rambling’, and going off on tangents, the interviewer is going to lose concentration on your answers and think you’re not right for the job.

Focus only on the money

Everyone knows that you need a job, so that you get money. But there should also be other reasons for why you want a job at the company you are interviewing with, whether that is their company culture or the opportunity for progression with them. Worst things you can do in an interview.

For some interviewers, candidates that focus only the financial side, are a complete turn off. It creates the impression that you are only bothered about money, and as soon as a job with a higher salary elsewhere comes along, you will be off! If the interviewer does bring up your salary expectations, be realistic. Most jobs will have had a salary bracket when you applied, so stick to those remits.

You don’t want to miss out on an amazing opportunity, because you price yourself out of it. Remember just because that is the salary right now, does not mean it will stick at that forever.

Not having any questions prepared

Every interview will include the question “do you have anything you want to ask us?”. You could say “no not really”, but ultimately the interviewer is giving you a complete open goal to show whether you are actually bothered about the role.

When doing research on the company, have a couple of points prepared, such as “where does my role fit within the wider company” or “what new projects are in the pipeline”, alongside any points that might have come up during the interview. This way the interviewer will be impressed by your preparation and any awkward silences are avoided!

Leaving the interview with the interviewer questioning whether you actually want the role

Make a lasting impression on the interviewer. Be upbeat when answering questions and take any opportunities you can to identify why you would be the best fit for them. If you are not able to sell yourself well or come across as dour and uninterested (even if it you might be really keen on the role), chances are the interviewer will not progress with you to the next stage.

This is just a selection of things to avoid when going on interviews. No doubt there are countless others that you might have heard of. But whatever you do, make sure you don’t do them yourself!

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