13 Interview Mistakes That Make You Look Dumb | Undergrad Success

13 Interview Mistakes That Make You Look Dumb

13 Interview Mistakes That Make You Look Dumb

1. You’re late to the interview

“I couldn’t find the building.” “I got stuck in traffic.” Nobody cares. You were late. That’s it. Excuses are unacceptable. Being late is inconsiderate and shows a lack of preparation. Not sure about the campus layout? Go the day before. Worried about traffic? Leave early. Just be on time.

2. You dressed inappropriately

This can work both ways—dressed up too much and dressed down too much; both can be avoided. The HR department is most often willing to communicate any employee dress codes, but if not, visit the organization and watch employees come and go to see their choice of attire.

3. You leave your cell phone on

Don’t be this guy or girl. Sure, we live in a society known for our constant communication with the outside world. But in your interview? Come on. A ringing cell phone is a sure fire way to look like a rookie.

4. You’re desperate—and they can tell

Honestly, this goes back to the fact you applied for 7 jobs within the same company. It translates in the interview when the interviewer sees you’re overeager. It’s okay to be excited…just be conscious of your emotions and focus on staying calm.

5. You can’t answer basic questions about your qualifications

Yes, this really happens. “What are your strengths?” “Why would you be a good fit in our company?” “Why should we hire you?” This is your time to show off! You’re being interviewed for a reason. And that reason is not for you to flub this answer.

6. You badmouth a previous employer

Please. Don’t. Do. This. It’s bad form. Stay positive. Negative attitudes attract no one. And today’s world is smaller than ever. Be diplomatic in your responses to questions regarding prior employment, especially in situations, which may have ended unfortunately. “I’m interested in starting a new chapter.” “I’m looking for a different set of work challenges.” Keep it simple. Keep it positive.

7. You know nothing about the company’s culture

Maybe this was more acceptable before the Internet was at your disposal but not anymore. Sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and others will provide you more than enough opportunity to understand the company’s culture and current problems they may be facing. Do your research. Don’t overlook this.

8. You talk too much

Nobody likes someone who rambles. Be short. Be concise.

9. You don’t talk enough

Listen, you can’t be a dead fish. You must communicate your value. This may be the only opportunity you get to say what your resume can’t. Don’t let it pass.

10.  You inflated your technical skills

Stop acting as though your ability to create a spreadsheet is something notable. Basic MS Office skills do not belong on a resume nor are they a skill to be mentioning. If you’ve created extensive databases in MS Access and written dozens of complex macros in Excel, then sure, put it on there. Otherwise, no. Just…no.

It doesn’t matter if you’re interviewing for a job in healthcare, retail, or an executive position. Even if you do get the job, it will soon be obvious that you lack the skills you claimed to have.

11.  You aren’t paying attention

It’s easy to get caught up and flustered in an interview. It’s even easier when you spaced out and missed the question that was being asked. If something is unclear about a question you were asked, then ask the interviewer. Be sure your answers are relevant by thinking—what a novel idea—before you speak.

12.  You made a weakness a “strength”

If anybody ever tells you to turn weaknesses into strengths, stop listening to them right there. If he or she is a close friend, smack them for good measure. (Kidding about the smacking…sort of.) Weaknesses are not strengths. They never will be strengths. Don’t talk about them as such.

13. You confused the interview with an interrogation

Think of your interview as a lopsided discussion. It is true that for most of the interview, you’ll be doing the talking. But this won’t be happening the whole time. There is a reason you’ll always be asked, “Do you have any questions for me?” at the end—occasionally the beginning—of the interview. Take this opportunity to learn about your employer. Engage them in a conversation and connect with them.


Samuel is in charge of products & content for Undergrad Success. Most days he’s figuring out how to spend less time working than he already is. When he’s not on the beach in Oceanside,CA, he lives online at http://hershberger.co/ where he coaches young men and women looking to get unstuck in their lives.

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