Celebrating 50 years of recruiting and staffing excellence in Vancouver! About us.

< Back to Blogs

Interview Mistakes to Avoid

You want your job interview to be memorable for all the right reasons – and we want that for you too! So, we’ve handpicked a mix of common and uncommon interview mistakes to avoid, ensuring you have the best shot at impressing the interviewer and landing that shiny new job. We’ll walk you through some tips and tricks to help you sidestep these interview no-no’s so you can enter that interview room with confidence – but not too much confidence!

In the brief time that you have with an interviewer, many determinations will be made about you, including how likeable you are, how well you would mesh with their team and how much you really want the job. And as we all know, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. So, on top of practicing your responses in front of the mirror, you should also familiarize yourself with easy-to-avoid interview mistakes. Let’s dissect some interview blunders and look at how to dodge them with finesse. First up: the fine line between self-confidence and self-importance.

Being too confident

Confidence is your ally when you want to sell your skills and abilities to potential employers. However, as with many aspects of life, the adage ‘moderation is key’ holds true. Being overconfident puts you at risk of coming across as arrogant, or even insincere, which may overshadow your qualifications and expertise. It also makes it tricky for the interviewer to imagine you working collaboratively in a team setting. And while employers appreciate candidates who are confident in their capabilities, too much self-assuredness may give the impression that you’re not open to feedback or the idea of growing in your role. Remember, being eager to learn is a trait that employers love!

How to avoid
  • First and foremost, just be yourself! While it’s perfectly acceptable to feign a bit of confidence when you’re feeling particularly nervous (fake it till you make it, as the saying goes), authenticity is key. Pretending to be someone you’re not may land you in a job that doesn’t align with your values or career goals. 
  • To avoid sounding arrogant, engage your active listening skills and make a conscious effort to show genuine curiosity about learning more. Job interviews are a two-way street and are not just about you impressing the interviewer. 
  • Tailor the level of confidence you project based on the nature of the job. If you’re interviewing for a leadership role, expressing confidence makes sense – although you will still need to strike that balance between self-assurance and humility. Whereas for a more junior role, you may want to err on the side of modesty to leave the right impression. 

Bringing up salary too early

We won’t hit you with a cliché like ‘do what you love, and the money will follow’ because, let’s face it, money does matter. But broaching the subject of salary too early in an interview can leave the impression that you’re primarily focused on compensation rather than having a genuine interest in the opportunity. Also, if you ask about salary straight off the bat, you’ll not know whether the offered salary aligns with the value you bring to the role, because you won’t have had the opportunity to learn more about the job responsibilities, team dynamics or overall work environment. 

How to avoid
  • You should have already done your research on the company in preparation for this interview, but make sure you also look into industry standards and typical salary ranges for the position. Armed with this info, you will have a better idea of what to expect and it will help quell the desire to blurt out ‘so what’s the pay cheque sitch around here?’
  • There’s about a 99% chance the interviewer has salary talk on their interview checklist, so let them lead the conversation there. They’ll bring it up when the time is right, usually after they have had a chance to assess your qualifications and after you’ve learned more about the job. If it hasn’t been mentioned by the end of the interview, it’s totally acceptable to ask about it when things are wrapping up.
  • Compensation comes in forms other than salary, like benefits and incentives. To convey that you’re not just thinking about the pay cheque, you should show interest in the overall package, including opportunities for growth and advancement with the company. 

Criticizing previous employers

At some point in the interview, you may be asked why you left your previous position. While it would probably feel cathartic to bash your old boss (we’ve all been there), it wouldn’t paint you in a very favorable light. Firstly, it’s a small world and you don’t know who your interviewer is connected with. It also might make the interviewer wonder if you are someone who can take accountability. And lastly, nobody likes a complainer! It’s just not professional. 

How to avoid
  • It is totally okay to keep this particular answer vague or more generic. You can say that your last job was just not a fit and leave it at that. If your old boss really was the reason you left your job then you can explain that the management style was not suitable for you.
  • If you’re prone to ‘word vomiting’ and would rather not touch on the subject, then steer the conversation away and bring it back to the role you’re interviewing for. You might say that your previous job didn’t offer many growth opportunities, and that’s why you are very interested in this position. From there, you can talk about how your skills align with this new opportunity. 
  • If you’re comfortable talking about your reasons for leaving a previous employer, then make sure to use diplomatic language. Using ‘I’ statements when talking about challenges will help to convey your experiences without attributing blame. 

Talking too much

The temptation to fill awkward silences with your own voice is real. Or maybe your nerves have your mouth in overdrive. Either way, sometimes less is more. If you talk too much in your interview, you may lose the interviewer’s attention – they are humans after all. It also puts you at the risk of oversharing, and your ramblings may even end up diluting the impact of your key points. Ultimately, you could end up talking yourself out of a job! 

How to avoid
  • It’s time to put those active listening skills to good use (and prove to your interviewer that you have them!). Focusing on what the interviewer is saying will help you fully understand the question. You’ll then be able to form more succinct and articulate answers. 
  • If you’re answering a behavioral question, use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your response. This method will make sure your answer is more organized and focused. 
  • Not all silences have to be awkward. To stop yourself from launching into a verbal tirade, take a pause before responding to a question. Giving yourself some time to gather your thoughts allows you to come up with a more concise answer. It’s okay to ask the interviewer for a moment to think about their question.  

Not asking thoughtful questions

Most interviews end with an opportunity for you to ask questions, so you should always be prepared for this. If this part of the interview takes you by surprise, you might find yourself asking basic questions like ‘What does this job entail?’ or ‘What does the company do?’. Or, even worse than that, you may draw a complete blank and pass on the opportunity to learn more. This tells the interviewer that you haven’t done your research and frankly, it makes it seem like you’re not interested in the role.

How to avoid
  • It goes without saying, but you should be well-prepared for this part of the interview. You could write up a list of well-thought-out questions before the interview, or you could take notes (mental or physical) throughout the interview on the areas you want to learn more about.
  • Try to avoid yes or no questions. Instead, ask open-ended questions that encourage more detailed answers. This way you will gather more insights and will come across as interested and enthusiastic. 
  • If you want to convey a proactive approach and learn more about how this role aligns with your goals, you should ask for clarity on the expectations of the position. Ask about potential challenges and performance metrics. The more thoughtful the questions, the more invested you will come across to the interviewer. 

Congratulations, you’ve just aced Interview Strategy 101! While there is a seemingly endless list of interview do’s and don’ts, the key takeaway is that an interview, at its core, is essentially a conversation. By doing the necessary prep, simply being yourself, and showing genuine enthusiasm and interest, you’ll have put your best foot forward.

Additional Resources

Subscribe to get
Blog email updates

Posted on Jan 04, 2024