The 15 Worst Job Interview Mistakes


Employers understand that it can be intimidating to be on the other side of the table during a job interview.  And while they may forgive blunders that are the result of nerves, they are less inclined to dismiss mistakes that stem from unprofessionalism, or a lack of preparation.  Here are 15 of the worst job interview mistakes a candidate can make.

Mistake 1: Answering a Text
At the top of the list, answering a call or text during the interview.  Hiring managers will tell you that this is a deal breaker.

Mistake 2: Appearing Uninterested
Engagement and motivation are increasingly becoming key to the talent evaluation process.  If you don’t appear engaged during the interview, it demonstrates a lack of buy-in and investment to the employer.

Resource: Check out this blog to get tips on how to answer job interview questions that assess motivation.

Mistake 3: Dressing Inappropriately
According to Business Insider, you have 7 seconds to make a positive first impression.  This means that how you dress for your accounting or finance interview matters.

For specific tips on how to dress to impress, read this blog.

Mistake 4: Speaking Negatively About Past Employers
You might be entirely justified in your criticism about your past employer or manager, but a job interview is not the place to express those frustrations.  It’s likely that the interviewer will see your behavior as unprofessional, or even a sign that you’re difficult to work with.

Mistake 5: Poor Body Language
Part of showing that you’re listening is maintaining eye contact and nodding in agreement with what your interviewer is saying.  Notice what message your body language is sending.

Tip: Read “The Art of Listening in an Accounting Interview” to increase your chances of being the candidate of choice.

Mistake 6: Being Late
Being late for the job interview is one of the worst mistakes a candidate can make.  Research your route in advance, leave early and make sure you arrive on time.

Mistake 7: Smoking Beforehand
Try not to smoke just before your interview.

Mistake 8: Chewing Gum
Chewing gum during an interview looks unprofessional, and while it may calm your nerves, it does nothing to improve your chances of landing the role.

Mistake 9: No Questions
Make sure to have 3 or 4 questions prepared for the end of the interview.  If you’re not sure what kind of questions to ask, the blog “Top Questions to Ask in an Accounting Interview” can help.

Mistake 10: Asking About Benefits Too Soon
It’s important to stay focused on what you can do to help the company achieve its goals.  This means that asking about benefits during the interview process is not recommended.  Broach the subject when your salary negotiation starts by positioning the conversation around understanding the total compensation package.

Mistake 11: Discussing Salary
Unless you are specifically asked about salary expectations, it’s best to leave the discussion to a later date.  The focus needs to be on the organization and how your skill set can help them achieve their vision.

It is, however, wise to prepare an answer to this question in case it is asked. Research the market to help you understand what type of compensation is reasonable. Resources such as can help with this.

Mistake 12: Weak Handshake
A weak handshake can derail an interview before it even starts.

Mistake 13: The Hero/Heroine Complex
While you may have been a top performer at your organization, never position your accomplishments as being the result of a hero or heroine complex (the rest of the team was failing and you saved the day).  Instead, talk about your ability to build collaborative relationships and your contribution to a team win.  Always speak positively about your co-workers.

Mistake 14: Interrupting
It’s good to be engaged.  It’s not good to interrupt.  Listen more and speak less.  Focus and show respect by allowing the interviewer to complete questions or stories.  It will go a long way to building rapport.

Mistake 15: Not Knowing Yourself
A high level of self-awareness is critical to succeeding in today’s job interviews.  Being able to answer questions that focus on learning from your mistakes, or how you leverage your strengths, are all paramount in moving you to the next stage of the process.  It’s not enough to just research a company.  You need to have done enough self-reflection to show that you can accept feedback and grow in a role.

Key Takeaways
An interviewer isn’t simply evaluating your technical fit.  They are asking themselves how well you would fit with the team, the company’s culture and the overall vision for the organization.  The impression you make during the interview, therefore, is critical to landing the role.  Research the organization, focus on professionalism and speaking from a posture of service.  Know yourself and what you bring to the table.  Show engagement and motivation.  Prepare intelligent, thoughtful questions for the end of the interview.  Now breathe deeply and relax – all of the time spent readying yourself will pay off in the end.

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

More from Clarity