Interview pitfalls to avoid

Matthew Hayes gives some advice on things to avoid at interview.



You’ve done the hard part, you’ve completed the application form and your potential employer has noticed you. Now it’s time to shine in the interview and land yourself the job.

In the current employment climate it can be extremely difficult to land the job that you want as employers are becoming increasingly picky due to the fact they have a greater number of candidates to choose from. Don’t give them any reason not to choose you, you can do yourself a big favour by not making simple mistakes.

Initial impressions

Start the interview off the right way, studies have shown that first impressions really do last. You need to dress appropriately for the part, avoiding anything risky, keep it simple and effective with tried and tested interview attire. For both men and women, avoid wearing anything too provocative or ‘out there’. Men should avoid garish or otherwise humorous ties etc and stick to a simple suit and sensible tie combination. Women should avoid wearing anything too ‘jangly’ such as excessive jewellery and dress sensibly, remember you’re trying to convey a reliable image so wrestling with over-sized high-heels could negate this.

Other simple tips which should go without saying include turning off your mobile phone for the duration of the interview, there’s nothing more annoying to an interviewer than a ringing telephone mid-sentence.


You also may want to consider how you communicate during the interview, both your tone and your vocabulary convey a lot of information about you to potential employers. It is usually best to avoid clichéd corporate ‘buzz-words’, for example:

  • ‘Pushing the envelope’ – this can send shudders down potential employers spine, it’s over used and simply too cheesy.
  • ‘I give 110%’ – aside from being impossible, this doesn’t actually mean anything. Instead give the interviewer examples of times when you’ve done beyond what your were asked to do.
  • ‘I achieve everything I set out to do’ – no you don’t, no one does. Instead, you always try your best and should things not go as expected, you’re not afraid to rely on the strengths of others and use your team-working skills.

This is by no means every phrase that you need to avoid but it serves as a general guideline of the sort of thing it’s best to avoid saying in an interview.

Be positive, upbeat and enthusiastic, speak honestly and sincerely and you can’t go far wrong. Remember you’re there to convince your potential employer to hire you not to confuse him with general statements that don’t really mean anything.

Body language

Non-verbal communication makes up the majority of what we say, even though we usually aren’t aware of it. If you’re feeling nervous it can be all too easy to show this through your body language. By being aware of this, you can adopt a posture that exudes calmness and confidence.

Some key-tips for achieving this are not to fidget, for example fiddling with your hands, this can demonstrate a lack of confidence. Instead practice a comfortable stance before hand that occupies your hands, for example, linking them together in front of you. This will also prevent you from exhibiting other markers of nervousness such as fiddling with your hair or clothing.

Make sure that you are fully in charge of your body and it’s reactions, this will allow you to come across as calm and collected and as someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Social media

‘Loose lips sink ships’. At no other time has this been more true, it can be far too easy to talk about an interview you’ve just had to friends on family online. You should be aware though that friends and family may not be the only ones reading what you’ve written. If you’re talking about a negative aspect of the interview, this can be particularly damaging. Don’t let this cost you the job!

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