3 Bad Job Interview Mistakes And How You Can Avoid Them

Even if you're a confident communicator, you may be making one of these job interview mistakes. According to a neuroscientist’s interview tips sited in this article, our brains are bad at figuring out what they don't know. Preparing for an interview, therefore, becomes vital. When I'm coaching clients, there are usually three things I pay extra close attention to; we'll call them interview pitfalls.

1. Not using your company research to help you come across as likable.

There is more to coming across as likable than maintaining eye-contact, wearing a complementary professional outfit and smiling in an interview. When you've done your research on a company beforehand, you're in a better position to know whether you really want the job. Hiring managers care about whether you genuinely want the job and they can tell when you don't.

Being familiar with every angle of the current company challenges, for example, its employees, clients or customers, and stakeholders also helps add relevance to your interview answers.

2. You've stopped learning and growing to drive innovation.

Being able to take advice and receive constructive criticism is one indicator of how well you may work with others. Your commitment to learning and personal growth can also show how motivated you'll be in a role and how you'll contribute to innovation. Here are a few things to help with learning and growth:

  • Top up your industry knowledge as part of your interview preparation by setting up Google alerts for your key job functions. You can also use BuzzSumo to find out the most popular news stories related to your industry, job function, or key themes.

  • Find out who the thought-leaders are in your industry and the company. See what they're talking about as solutions to challenges.

  • Ask questions in your interview that show you have a growth mindset.

3. You can do the job, but you're not showing that.

This is often because of one of the following:

  • You haven't had an interview in a while

  • Perhaps, you haven't invested the time to develop your interview skills

  • Maybe you've spent some time articulating your career story but not effectively

  • You lack confidence

What can you do?

Think about examples that relate to key areas of performance, and then write your example stories down in bullet format and give them titles. Don't forget to include and even focus on stories that started negatively, but you turned around.

Here are some suggested categories, but you'll want to base them off the critical job requirements and capabilities needed for the role.

If there's a skill or capability mentioned multiple times include it in one of your stories. Here are some examples to create stories for:

  • Teamwork or leadership

  • Communicating with a client or stakeholder

  • Learning something new

  • Achieving a goal

Once you’ve identified your story theme, give your answer some context, showing the actions you took and the results you achieved. Go a step further too and address other pivotal concerns like mindset, attitude and cultural fit. Here is an example:


We served a client base of 8,000 registered advisors. The learning curve was steep, and the average tenure before full self-sufficiency was two years.


I educated 60-80 clients per day on complex issues, policies and legalities. Due to my success in the role, I wanted to set up some resources to help my teammates learn and better assimilate information.


The desire was granted after senior management named me fully self-sufficient in just six months. They said it was a remarkable example of my ability to learn quickly and a great desire to help others on the team.

Also, bear in mind what holds weight when sharing examples. Here are a few things:

  • Percentage or profit increases

  • Awards or significant recognition

  • Reducing costs or saving time

  • Creating or improving a resource or procedure

  • Numbers to provide context

  • Use of language and the mention of values that match the company's personality and character.

I know interviews feel weird sometimes, but you can take control of how well you interview by avoiding these mistakes. Once you've done your part, relax knowing you've done your best.

This article was first published on my Forbes column.