How to avoid mistakes during a job interview

Mary Hegarty,Department for Employment and Learning's, Careers Manager with the Careers Service Derry.
Mary Hegarty,Department for Employment and Learning's, Careers Manager with the Careers Service Derry.

A successful interview will show the employer that you are well prepared, able to cope with difficult questions and most importantly leave a positive impression.

However, not all interviews go well. Mary Hegarty, Derry careers manager with the Department for Employment and Learning’s Careers Service, highlights a number of common mistakes that can be made during interviews:

1) Leaving your mobile phone switched on - Can you hold while I take this?

It’s vital that you have your phone switched off before starting an interview. Replying to a text message or answering a call is extremely unprofessional and may create a tense atmosphere for the rest of the interview. There should be no excuses for this mistake. Always turn off your phone and ensure the interviewer is aware they have your full attention.

2) Being unprepared - Always do your homework.

Unable to answer certain questions because you have not completed background research on the company will show a lack of interest in the role you are applying for. Read the company website ahead of time to prepare and check the company’s Twitter and Facebook page if they have these.

3) Badmouthing your previous employer - It’s a smaller world than you think.

The fastest way to talk yourself out of a job is to talk badly about your previous employer. Not only does this give the impression that you would do the same with the company you are applying to but also you never know who your interviewer knows. When faced with the challenge of talking about former employers, ensure you are prepared with a positive spin on your experiences.

4) Dressing Inappropriately - Dress for success.

The first judgement an interviewer makes is going to be based on how you look and what you are wearing. Dress accordingly to the job you are being interviewed for.

5) Lying - If you tell the truth, you never have to remember anything. Telling lies during an interview can only cause trouble for you. Fake stories can come across as rehearsed and can show nervousness thus affecting other parts of your interview.

6) Arriving late - Sorry I had somewhere more important to be. Showing up late will have an effect on the rest of your interview because you will have to work extra hard to overcome creating an initial bad impression. This may knock you off your stride and have an impact on your overall chance of being hired. Don’t seem too eager and arrive just ten minutes before the interview begins.

7) Don’t talk about benefits too soon -

What can the company do for me? Discussions on matters of pay and annual leave should be left until you are offered the job, if brought up too soon the interviewer may get the impression you don’t have a real interest in the job beyond wages and holidays.

8) Eye contact - It’s not a staring contest

Too much or not enough eye contact can both be detrimental to your chances. Either situation can create a negative effect. If you hold constant eye contact you may wear the interviewer out. On the other hand, a lack of eye contact can quickly label you as evasive, untruthful, too shy or insecure. Try to find the balance between the two and ensure you keep eye contact during introductions, hand shakes and job-related questions

9) Bad posture - Does this chair recline?

Displaying a bad posture can give the impression that you are lazy, bored, or even uncomfortable. You should try and relax with your back against the chair and you feet firmly planted on the floor.

10) Don’t be overly modest - Here is why I’m great. Of course an interview is a time to highlight your strengths and accomplishments. However, it is important that what you talk about is relevant to the position applied for. Interviewers do not have to know about irrelevant skills and accomplishments. You will waste both their time and your own time.

If you need any information, advice or guidance on you career, log onto to find your nearest careers office. Alternatively you can contact the Careers Service by phone on 0300 200 7820.”