Career Experts Share the Dumbest Things You Can Do on a Job Interview


There are those really big screw-ups you can make when sitting down with a potential boss—like showing up with a hole in your pants, or arriving late—and then there are those stupid, but much less obvious, mistakes. (For example: not shutting up.) We tapped some of the top career experts in the country to lay out the biggest no-no’s of 2016 if you’re looking for a new gig. Consider this your goof-proof checklist before things get awkward.   

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Don’t: Overshare

Whether it’s taking 15 minutes to answer “tell me about yourself,” or going into a ton of detail on the inner workings of your current company, if you’re overwhelming your interviewer with information, your most important points will get lost. In an interview, your goal is to let your interviewer know that you can do the job, you want to do the job, and your past experiences, skills, and work style would make you the perfect fit. Avoid going off on tangents, answer questions directly, and give examples and anecdotes that are truly relevant for the job at hand.

-Jaime Petkanics, founder and career and talent consultant at The Prepary

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Don’t: Interrupt

No matter how much you may want the job or know how qualified you are, your interviewer sits in the driver’s seat.  When you interrupt it says any or all of the following: that you lack appropriate social skills, that you don’t value what the interviewer has to say, or that you don’t respect authority.  You may get your point across, but at the expense of being invited back for the next round of interviews.

-Roy Cohen, Career Counselor and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide

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Don’t: Lie or Overembellish

Lying in a job interview is a sure way to shoot yourself in the foot. Potential employers can easily look you up online, check your social media profiles, and see if you are telling the truth. While it’s true you want to make yourself look as good as possible, you shouldn’t make up information or embellish.

-Hallie Crawford, career coach and founder of career coaching agency Hallie Crawford.

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Don’t: Slouch

The worst thing you can do in a job interview is to have both bad posture and a weak handshake because it shows that you lack confidence, professionalism and interest in the position.

-Career expert Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself

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Don’t: Complain About Your Past Employer

One of the worst things you can do in a job interview is talk negatively about a previous employer because you come across negatively yourself. When speaking about past positions, touch only on the positive experiences you had—even if the interviewer tries to bait you otherwise. Tell the interviewer what you accomplished there and how you can use what you learned to benefit this company. Stick to stories that highlight your strengths, not your past employer’s weaknesses.

-Heather R. Huhman, career and workplace expert and president of Come Recommended.

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Don’t: Show Up Without Questions

There’s no reason in this day and age for you not to do your research and prepare a few questions ahead of time about the company, the industry, and the role.

-Vicki Salemi, career expert for Monster

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Don’t: Forget Your Strengths

You should know what makes you unique in hard skills (certifications, knowledge of certain software), and soft skills (being a team player, good work ethic, etc) and understand how those strengths would positively impact their bottom line. Don’t assume they will put two and two together; you have to be able to lay it out for them during the interview. You need to be able to explain how your unique combination of strengths makes you stand out from other candidates.

-Hallie Crawford, career coach and founder of career coaching agency Hallie Crawford.

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Don’t: Text

Disconnect in your interview.  At the very least flip the device’s ringer to silence mode.  The interview should be your number one priority, not where you will meet up with friends later.  And if this individual might possibly be your next boss, he or she should know that you are offering your undivided attention.  Anything less is insulting and it suggests loud and clear that other activities will take precedence over your job.

-Roy Cohen, career counselor and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide

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