What not to do in a job interview: hiring managers give their top tips

These are the biggest mistakes people make in job interviews.

We’ve all walked out of a job interview thinking we could have done better.

Smiled more, talked less, not been so fidgety (we know, it’s nerves).

But what are the deal breakers? What are the things you absolutely cannot do or you’ll completely blow your chances of getting the job? interviewed 850 hiring managers to find out the biggest mistakes candidates make:

Top of the list, with 93 per cent of hiring managers agreeing on this, was being late.

William Vanderbloemen, the CEO and founder of Vanderbloemen Search Group, told MarketWatch: “At its root, an [interview] appointment is a contract between you and me. And if you cannot keep this very first contract we have, especially when you’re trying to impress me, tells me that you’ll likely not be able to deliver on any other contract I entrust you with if you were on my team.”

If you are running late call as soon as possible to let the company know and once you get to the interview, apologise and give a brief explanation. It really helps if you have a decent excuse, though – like traffic was much heavier than expected because of a major accident on the road.

Whining came in second.

So you were late because you got parked in by a delivery van – okay, it was annoying, we get it. If you’re unhappy in your current role, don’t complain about it. If you feel you’ve been treated unfairly at work, don’t complain about that either.

Call to Career founder Cheryl Palmer suggests instead doing a “quick pivot” and talking about how you were able to overcome obstacles at work.

“Talk about some of the accomplishments that you have. That way you can end on a positive note.”

Showing a lack of preparation came in at number three, at 89 per cent – that comes down to knowing your facts about the company you want to work for.

Managing director of Consult Recruitment, Angela Cameron, says, “You can easily find out about the company’s competitors or ownership structure online (and you should). Asking about them just shows you haven’t bothered to do your research.”

Bad-mouthing a former boss or former company came in at fourth and fifth spots, at 88 per cent and 87 per cent, respectively.

You’re better to say you’re looking for a new challenge or more responsibility than you’re desperate to get out of the toxic environment you currently work in.

In sixth place, bad grammar and spelling mistakes in your cover letter.

When errors appear in a cover letter or CV it shows tardiness and poor attention to detail. If you can’t nail this when you’re trying to impress a prospective employer, will you get it right when you’re dealing with that prospective employer’s clients? That’s the question they’ll be asking.

Right behind in seventh spot, bad grammar during your interview.

Having unrealistic expectations for remuneration came in next at 84 per cent, and behind that at 80 per cent, being under-qualified.

Hiring managers were also put off by answering questions incorrectly, lack of eye contact, dressing too casually for the interview and bragging – there is an art to sharing your accomplishments.

In the meantime, if you want to leave a great impression make sure you arrive early, leave a portfolio of sample work (NOT gimicky stuff like home baking) and follow up with a phone call or email thanking them for the opportunity.

Angela Cameron also suggests having one or two questions up your sleeve to ask when they wrap things up by asking, “Do you have any questions for us?”

Hiring managers unanimously agree that the worst answer you can give to this question is ‘no’.

The second worst is anything of the ‘Do I get a car park?/How often will I have to work overtime?/When’s the next pay review?’ variety, Angela says.

Instead, ask ‘What do you love the most about your job here?’ ‘Tell me about one of your star performers. What do you attribute their success to?’ ‘What are the top three things you need me to achieve in my first three months?’ or ‘What concerns do you have about my skills or experience?’

LinkedIn has found that the earlier you apply for a job (being among the first 25 candidates is especially beneficial) the more likely it is that you will land the job.

It’s also worth cleaning up your social media accounts, because 38 per cent of hiring managers will look at them.

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