How to ruin your next job interview

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You have updated your CV, applied for your perfect job and received notification that you’ve been selected for interview – good news! So, how are you going to mess this up? From bad smells to bad manners, here are some mistakes to avoid. 

Being late

Don’t be late.  It’s important to have enough margin for error in case you miss the bus, there is a breakdown on the motorway or you get lost.  If you are running late, you must call ahead and let the interviewer know – it’s not ok to arrive 20 minutes late without an explanation and expect a warm reception.   Give yourself enough time to relax, gather your thoughts and if there is any company literature in reception, take the opportunity to swat up!

Not doing your research

Always do your research on the company before you attend interview.  You need to have a clear idea about what the company does and what they specialise in.  Explore social media channels and read any recent news articles.  Look up your interviewer on LinkedIn, find out about their background.  Be prepared to be questioned on your level of knowledge on the company.

“So, can you tell me what you know about this company?”

“.. erm...”

This isn’t going to land you the job.

Being hungover

Believe it or not, this happens.  If you’re planning a big night out and it’s the night before an interview, it might be a good idea to go out another night instead.  If you must party, take it easy and don’t drink enough to give yourself a hangover the next morning. 

Being tired, bleary eyed and smelling of alcohol isn’t going to do you any favours.  Does an employer want to employ somebody who thinks it’s ok to arrive for an interview with a hangover from a party the night before? No.

Flirting with the interviewer

It’s great to build rapport and be open and friendly but keep it strictly professional.  A colleague was once asked out on a date by a gentleman she was meeting with and it made for a rather uncomfortable interview.

Answering your phone

It's hard to believe that someone going to a job interview would forget to turn off their phone, but it happened to a colleague only the other day.   The candidate’s phone rang during the interview and instead of apologising and turning his phone off, he took the call.  Not only is this rude but it’s disrespectful to the person who has given up their time to interview you for the position.  It also displays a lack of interest in the company and job you are interviewing for.

If you need to take your phone with you, make sure it is out of sight and either on silent or turned off. 


It’s understandable to feel nervous and want to calm your pre-interview nerves but please don’t cover up the cigarette you just smoked with a bouquet of perfume/aftershave and breath mints.  Most recruiters and hiring managers will be familiar with the combination of overpowering perfume / aftershave with minty, smoky undertones.  It can be particularly off-putting for a non-smoker. 

If you’re tempted to have a cigarette beforehand, try and find another way to calm your nerves.

Some other no-no’s worth mentioning:

  • Chewing gum - nobody wants to see you chewing gum when you talk
  • Wearing a Bluetooth headset, complete with flashing light.  Take it off, you can respond to any missed calls after the interview.
  • Slating your current boss – not only is it unprofessional, have you considered the possibility that the interviewer may know your current boss? Awkward.


Office 03 image by Coleydude