5 Common Interview Mistakes That Can Cost You The Job

Show up on time, put your phone away, and make sure you have a copy of your resume.

5 Common Interview Mistakes That Can Cost You The Job
[Photo: Flickr user Nano Anderson]

You have an impressive resume and you’re sure you’re a great fit for the job, but the interview can make or break your chances.


New research by the staffing service The Creative Group highlights five common gaffes that could cost you the job. The national study asked executives about the most common deal breakers that would immediately discount an interviewee from consideration, and revealed the top five responses.

Mistake No. 1: Checking Your Phone

Though it can be tempting to browse your phone while sitting in the waiting room, this simple maneuver can leave a negative taste in the hiring manager’s mouth. “It shows a lack of respect for what you’re there for,” says Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group. “It enforces that perhaps the job is not your top priority.” In order to resist the urge to check your Facebook updates while you wait, turn off your phone and put it away. Instead, to keep yourself occupied, Domeyer suggests paying attention to your surroundings, reading any material lying around about the company, looking at accolades on the wall, or flipping through brochures.

Hanging around the waiting room is also a good opportunity to make contact with the receptionist. Although it didn’t make the top-five-mistakes list, Domeyer says being rude to the receptionist is a common error made by interviewees. Although the receptionist may not have a say in who gets hired for the position, Domeyer says never assume they won’t make a comment to the hiring manager, either positive or negative, about you that could sway a decision.

Mistake No. 2: Showing Up Late

“Showing up even a few minutes late might signal to the hiring manger that you have little regard for his or her schedule,” says Domeyer. It also may give the impression that you’re inclined to be tardy, especially if you show up late without acknowledging it. Most companies expect interviewees to show up 10 to 15 minutes before their interview. To avoid being late, do a test run a day or two in advance of your interview to make sure you know the route and traffic pattern.

Mistake No. 3: Arriving Empty Handed

Although we live in a digital world, it’s always a good idea to come with extra print copies of your resume, especially in case the hiring manager decides to invite someone else to the interview who hasn’t yet seen your resume. Bringing along your portfolio and copies of references is also a good idea to show that you’re prepared to move forward with the job should an offer be forthcoming. Domeyer recommends pre-clearing references before the interview so they’re ready to be contacted.

Mistake No. 4: Not Dressing For The Occasion

You may be interviewing for a laid-back company where jeans and T-shirts are the norm, but Domeyer says that doesn’t mean you should show up for your interview in your Saturday casuals. “The expectation in an interview is that you’re putting your best foot forward,” she says.


“Even if it’s a casual environment, you want to choose an outfit that’s slightly more formal than what you might wear in your day-to-day at the office.” When choosing an outfit, remember, there’s more of a danger in appearing underdressed than overdressed, so go ahead and pull out your Sunday best.

Mistake No. 5: Complaining About Your Past Job

You may have plenty of reasons for leaving your current job–maybe you don’t get along with your boss, you hate your coworkers, or the company treats employees poorly–but you shouldn’t bring all that negative baggage to your interview.

Bad-mouthing your previous company or supervisor may lead hiring managers to question your professionalism and attitude, even if your complaints are valid. When asked why you left your last job, Domeyer says it’s best to take the high road and simply say it was time to move on and look for another opportunity that was a better fit for your professional goals.

Related: A Funny Look At How You Really Sound In Job Interviews

About the author

Lisa Evans is a freelance writer from Toronto who covers topics related to mental and physical health. She strives to help readers make small changes to their daily habits that have a profound and lasting impact on their productivity and overall job satisfaction