In this day and age with the dozens (sometimes hundreds) of applications sent in for just one position, earning an interview means you’ve gotten yourself out of the pile and into the next round for a position, often as a finalist. As such, you need to take the interview seriously and avoid making certain mistakes that will get your name crossed off the list in indelible ink:

Arriving Late and not being Professionally Dressed

Both of these send a message that the candidate lacks respect for the interviewer’s time, the position, the company, or themselves. Never use the excuse of bad traffic for being late — this tells an employer that you don’t plan ahead. If circumstances such as a major accident have you stuck in unmoving traffic, have the phone number handy so you can call, apologize, and ask to reschedule. Make sure that you get there five to ten minutes early. It sends a signal that you take the interview seriously.

As for attire, dress professionally even if the facilityemployees tend to wear casual clothing. It is always better to be over dressed than underdressed. Suits for men and women are always a safe bet. When in doubt, call the office ahead of time to see what they suggest. They will also appreciate your proactive approach to be prepared.

Badmouth Your Former Employers

No matter why you left/want to leave your job, absolutely do not point fingers at anyone, even if you feel justified in doing so. This gives off a “sour grapes” attitude that may make an employer think you have trouble taking responsibility for your own actions or have difficulties getting along with others. Keep it factual and say something about how you would create a more positive situation, given the chance to do it over. And consider this: Your future employer may well know the boss you’ve just ranted about through mutual contacts or business.

Have your PHONE ON

Leaving your phone on will also get your name crossed off the list quickly. It’s one mistake that ranks as virtually inexcusable because you can avoid it so easily. It gives the impression that you haven’t made this interview a priority and that you lack preparation skills or attention to detail. Either leave it in your car or turn it off completely before you enter the building. Also, make sure you are not on your phone while waiting outside of your interview room. If your interview sees you on your phone when they come to retrieve you, it may paint a picture that you are not fully present and focused on the interview.

Not Coming in Prepared

Before you go on an interview, you should practice common interview questions with someone and look up information regarding the company. You’ll want to come across as confident and knowledgeable Fumbling an answer to a basic interview question makes you look unprepared and disorganized.

As for researching the company, use their website and social media accounts. See if they’ve been written mentioned in any recent news publications or if you have any contacts at the company, ask if the can provide any information that might be helpful. Readily discussing the company sends the signal that you’ve taken the time and effort to learn about them and have a serious interest in working there.

Not engaging fully in the interview

Stay focused during the interview — it looks bad if you have to ask an interviewer to repeat a question or you lose your train of thought while speaking. Talking endlessly to answer a question can make you sound long-winded or unfocused as well; respond only to what’s asked, and keep it to the point. Have questions prepared to ask at the end of the interview that indicate your desire to know more about the position and the company — this demonstrates preparation on your part, and a well-thought out question can impress an interviewer as much as any response you give.

If you take these tips to heart, you’ll avoid making interview blunders that can potentially cost you a job. For more tips on how to ace an interview, go to for help.

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