8 Embarrassing Job Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Alarm Clock

What you do before and during an interview can either make or break your chances of landing the job. Here are some crucial mistakes to avoid when going for that all-important interview.

1. Arriving late

This can happen for so many reasons. Make sure you cover all of them.

How to avoid this?

  • Decide on an outfit the night before.
  • Know the directions beforehand.
  • Ask in advance about where to park.
  • Check the traffic; there may have been collisions causing congestion.
  • Set an alarm. Or five alarms.

2. Forgetting to switch off your phone

This is an easy mistake to make, because there are already a hundred other things on your mind just before an interview.

How to avoid this?

Put a reminder on your phone to switch it off. Set this reminder for half an hour before your interview.

3. Cringeworthy internet photos

Your social media/online presence can shoot you in the foot if you don’t monitor it for things like drunken pictures of yourself or overly emotional posts you’ve long forgotten about.

How to avoid this?

Check your privacy settings and adjust them if you must. Curate your profiles (all of them) to publicly reflect only what you want your prospective employer to see.

4. Showing up exhausted

This is easier to pick up than you may realise. Drooping eyelids, yawning, and being unresponsive because you’re tired not only leaves a bad impression, but it also prevents you from being as equipped as you usually are.

How to avoid this?

Get a decent night’s sleep. Don’t do all your preparation the night before the interview.

5. Talking too much

Some people are naturally effusive and bubbly and they can’t help themselves, but this can also be a problem when you’re very nervous. Nervous people tend to over-explain themselves, and in really dire cases, they say inappropriate things, try to correct themselves, get frustrated and, horror-of-horrors, swear.

How to avoid this?

Stay calm: Prepare thoroughly, and you will be less likely to get so nervous.

6. Badmouthing your previous company

Just don’t do it. Even if they were terrible, don’t do it. You will probably be asked why you left your previous company or why you want to leave your current job.

How to avoid this? 

Have an appropriate answer to this question. It doesn’t have to be a lie. But leave out the heated personal fight with that co-worker, and speak about your need for professional growth and development.

Dress Smart7. Dressing inappropriately 

This might seem obvious, but if you’ve been out of the job market for a while, or if you’ve just entered it, you may need to give your interview dress code some thought. Or go shopping for it.

How to avoid this?

Check your wardrobe for a possible interview outfit at least a few days before the interview to make sure you do, in fact, have something suitable to wear.

8. Awkward silences 

These often happen when the interviewee has no questions to ask the interviewer. At the end of the day, a job interview is a conversation.

How to avoid this?

You need to have some questions of your own, too. If you’d like some examples of good questions to ask your interviewer, consider reading this blog post on 10 Things You Should Ask During a Job Interview by Oxbridge Academy.

Ready to go for interviews? Line up a few! Apply for jobs on Job Mail NOW!

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7 Responses

  1. john says:

    I enjoyed this thank u cause i read this i saw the many mistakes i have made maybe thats why i have been turned down everytime.will look into it

  2. nofika says:

    Thanx Angelique for all ur support you have been giving us,and the tips for an interview it really helps

  3. nofika says:

    Hi,if you can help me I wanna study Administration,does it pay well?

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi-end admin jobs do pay well (Executive PA, etc), but entry level jobs pay less. Check the available jobs in the Admin / PA section on the Job Mail site to get an idea

  4. Ncumisa says:


  5. Mojalefa says:

    Thanks for this one, I think it is a great resource even for those of us who are generally comfortable not to take things or granted. Thanks Angelica, like your name suggest this is angelic.

  6. Sibongiseni says:

    Thanks for the useful tips. Now I can see the mistakes that I’ve made in the past…

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