Let’s face the facts: Job interviews are difficult. Even experienced, confident candidates sometimes make simple mistakes that can cost them an opportunity. And by sometimes, we mean often. Your success during an interview doesn’t always depend on your job skills or your professional background; sometimes it just depends on how well you handle the task at hand, which means staying focused, playing the part, bringing your charms to the foreground and remembering to bring up the topics and statistics that help you shine.

Here are a few very common mistakes that no candidate is fully immune from. Make sure you don’t stumble into these easy pitfalls.

Forgetting important details.

No matter how impressed or charitable your interviewer may be, she’s not a mind reader. If you have a relevant project in your history or a valuable character trait, you may not have a graceful way to insert this detail into the structure of your resume. So, you’ll need to bring it up during your interview session, and your interviewer is unlikely to prompt you. Before your scheduled session, dig deep into your past and credentials. If you want to mention something, write it down.

Being tone-deaf.

In many ways, interview success depends on performance. You’ll have to act the part of a brilliant and reliable employee, whatever that might look like to you. But don’t get so caught up in your show that you miss cues or tune out your interviewer. If she asks you a question, answer the question. If she looks bored, change course. If she seems turned off by a detail you thought would help you, pick a new subject. If she lights up at an accomplishment you thought was trivial, get on her wavelength and provide more information. If she starts to explain complex details about the company, stop planning your next statement and listen. An interview is a performance, but it’s also a two-way conversation.

Not getting “it.”

This company needs a programmer, and you know how to program. But as your interviewer explains, the job also requires high levels of customer service. She mentions this once, then twice. But you’re still talking about programming. She wants to know if you can handle the actual job, not the one printed in the job description. Read between the lines and give her the information she needs.


When we’re under pressure, our emotions can easily get the best of us. But in an interview, it’s never wise to show any emotion that’s even remotely negative. Excitement is good, and so is joy, a sense of humor, optimism, an open mind and friendliness. But if you feel confused, afraid, pessimistic, overwhelmed or annoyed, keep that hidden. There’s a place for honest emotional expression and an interview is not that place.

For more on how to avoid common blunders and land the job of your dreams, talk to the career management team at Extension.



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