The job-hunting process can be difficult and time-consuming, and interviews are the most crucial - not to mention stressful - part of the process. These are some common mistakes that many interviewees make during an interview. Avoiding these behaviors won't necessarily land you the job, but they will put you in the upper class of interviewees. Check out the seven tips below to find out what you should not be doing during and prior to your job interview.

IN PICTURES: 6 Hot Careers With Lots Of Jobs

  1. Show Up Late and/or Disheveled
    This may seem unnecessary to mention, but it's one of the most important parts of the interview process. Showing up late, smelling like smoke, chewing gum or having messy hair/clothes can all give impressions of being disorganized, untrustworthy, irresponsible and incompetent.
    Just keep in mind that you're not the only person being interviewed, so little things like showing up on time might not have tremendous upside, but showing up late will make you stand out - in a bad way. Show up early to an interview and make sure you look (and smell) the part of the job for which you're interviewing.

  2. Leave Your Cell Phone On
    This may also seem obvious, but how many times have you been somewhere - at the movies, in a class, at work - and all of a sudden you hear the latest Black Eyed Peas song blaring out of someone's purse. It happens. And just like showing up late or unprepared, it'll be a small thing that says a lot: irresponsible, forgetful, unreliable.
    At worst it could show that you are not taking the interview seriously and are not that interested in the job. We won't even mention answering a phone call during the interview - hopefully that's too obvious. (Learn the steps that will help lead you to a new career in Taking The Lead In The Interview Dance.)

  3. Show Up Mentally Unprepared
    Mental preparation will make a huge difference. One of the most important aspects is to ensure that you do research on the company and position. The last thing you want is to ask basic questions about the organization and your role.
    As well, you should research interview questions. Even if this is your first job interview, it doesn't have to seem like it. There are a number of sites that list common job interview questions. Think of answers to questions like: Why do you want this job? What value can you add to the company? What are your strongest skills? What are your biggest weaknesses?

    Imagine that you are the person doing the hiring and think of what questions you would ask someone. Practicing and thinking about these questions will make you calmer and more confident during the interview. You don't have to have the answers memorized - it helps if you seem like you're thinking of them on the spot - so practicing them with a friend, or even just considering your answers will lead to a smoother interview process.

  4. Show Up Physically Unprepared
    Physically prepared means showing up with the correct physical objects; bring an extra copy of your CV and reference list; bring a pen and notebook to write down any pertinent information or phone numbers. This also means physically preparing for the interview: shaving, making sure your hair is neat and your clothes are clean and wrinkle free. (You may think you have a strong resume, but if you are including these surprising red-flag items, you may not even make it to an interview. Learn more in 10 Resume Red Flags.)

  5. Be a Wallflower
    It's important to be involved and engaged in the interview process, so don't be a passive participant. Speak clearly and with confidence, and if there is a time when you are asked questions, don't ever answer questions with "I don't know." This is especially important when you're asked about your salary expectations.
    As well, when there is a chance for you to ask questions, don't stay silent; ask at least one question. It's best to come prepared with a question to ask - one that you think will not be answered during the interview process.

  6. Get Too Personal
    It's best to focus on ways in which you can be professionally helpful to the company. So don't talk about your personal life unless you're specifically asked; focus on measurable and work-related experiences. This is not to say that you should be impersonal - you can be warm and professional without going into details about outstanding debt or personal problems with former coworkers and family. If you decide to talk about personal experiences, make sure they are work appropriate.

  7. Oversell
    In an interview, it's not just "yes" and "no" questions. They can be open-ended and require anecdotes from past jobs, experiences that have prepared you for the prospective job and how your skills are applicable. It's important to answer the questions succinctly, and to then wait for the next question. If you can think of one strong example to back up a question, use just that one. Talking too much, and giving long and weaker answers are not going to help you - this is another advantage of preparing and practicing for the interview.
    Overselling can come across as desperate and possibly self-centered. Interviewers are doing a number of interviews, and will appreciate when an interviewee adequately answers the questions without taking all day. (Standing out from the crowd is a must, especially when high unemployment rates make competition fierce. Don't miss 5 Ways To Make Your Resume Stand Out.)

The Bottom Line
Take these don'ts as a starting point for the important things to avoid during an interview. Overall, it's best to consider the job you're applying for, and put yourself in the position of the interviewer. Picture a nightmare interviewee and do the opposite.

Still feeling uninformed? Check out last week's Water Cooler Finance to see what's been happening in financial news.

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    5 Career-Killing Facebook Mistakes

    Facebook might be a great way to show off those cute pics from your vacation -- but your page isn’t so great if it hurts your career.
  2. Investing

    How To Create a Winning Elevator Pitch

    Whether you are talking to potential investors, partners, customers or employees, the skill of being able to concisely summarize your business is critical.
  3. Personal Finance

    Top Universities for Getting an MBA Abroad

    Going abroad for an MBA can add cachet when it comes time to get a job.
  4. Personal Finance

    Five Things To Avoid at Your Next Interview

    Do you have an interview coming up? Avoid these five mistakes and leave a lasting impression on your potential employer.
  5. Personal Finance

    6 Reasons To Get Your MBA Abroad

    Given the number of high caliber business schools outside the United States, it may make sense to venture overseas for your MBA. Here's what you can gain.
  6. Personal Finance

    Insider's Guide To The Top U.S. Business Schools

    The best business school for you depends on your skills, career goals and interests. We help future MBA's make a more informed choice.
  7. Personal Finance

    10 Habits of Successful People

    10 of the most-often cited habits of people who have enjoyed success in business and in life.
  8. Savings

    5 Ways To Be Irreplaceable At Work

    Companies most value five certain behaviors, and the employees who exhibit them establish themselves as essential to an organization.
  9. Economics

    What Does a Relationship Manager Do?

    A firm’s relationship manager works to maintain positive relationships with its customers and partner firms.
  10. Personal Finance

    10 Tips for Strategic Networking

    Learn the rules of networking so you can operate like a pro. After all, maintaining a strong network is essential in today's job environment.
  1. Does a financial advisor need an MBA?

    Obtaining a license as a financial adviser does not require an Master's of Business Administration (MBA) degree. The Certified ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How can an investment banker switch to a career in corporate finance?

    It's pretty easy for an investment banker to switch to a career in corporate finance. The career skills are easily transferable, ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do I get started with a career in asset management?

    The asset management industry has a variety of different career paths. Depending on what asset management area you would ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. For which kind of jobs is having Magnum Cum Laude most important?

    Having a magna cum laude degree is most important for jobs in the fields of finance, management consulting and engineering. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Other than accounting, what does a corporate finance job involve?

    While a corporate finance job almost always involves accounting in some capacity, there are many additional job duties and ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are some common questions an interviewer may ask during an interview for a position ...

    When interviewing for a job at an investment bank, a candidate is likely to answer questions about his career and education ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Purchasing Power

    The value of a currency expressed in terms of the amount of goods or services that one unit of money can buy. Purchasing ...
  2. Real Estate Investment Trust - REIT

    A REIT is a type of security that invests in real estate through property or mortgages and often trades on major exchanges ...
  3. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has been held for over a year. Section 1231 property includes buildings, ...
  4. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
  5. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  6. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!