Deborah Walker

Do You Know What the Top Interview Mistakes Are?

How to avoid stumbling on these five interview hurdles.

February 16, 2012
by Deborah Walker, CCMC

We’ve all heard stories of job candidates who looked great on paper but were absolute disasters in person. With fewer interview opportunities available in today’s competitive job market, it’s essential to make the best possible first impression.

5 Interview Blunders

Learn from the mistakes of others and avoid these top five interview blunders:

  1. Not preparing for the tough interview questions.

    Like every job seeker, you probably have your own set of tough interview questions you hope will never be asked.

    The best strategy is to prepare answers to ALL of these questions. A career coach can be a great resource for helping you work out suitable answers with a positive spin on negative or challenging career situations.
  2. Failure to match communication styles.

    Making a great first impression is easier to do when you communicate effectively with your interviewer. The best way to do this is by mirroring his or her communication style. Allowing your interviewer to set the tone of the conversation will put him or her at ease and makes the conversation flow more naturally.  

    For instance:

    • If the interviewer seems all business, don't attempt to loosen him or her up with a joke or story. Be succinct.
    • If the interviewer is personable, try discussing his or her interests. Personal items on display in the office can be a clue.
    • If asked a direct question, answer directly. Then follow up by asking if more information is needed.

  3. Talking too much.  

    In my recruiting days, I abhorred over-talkative candidates and so did most of my client employers who interviewed these candidates. Over-talking takes several forms:
    • Taking too long to answer direct questions. The impression: This candidate just can’t get to the point.
    • Nervous talkers. The impression: This candidate is covering up something or is outright lying.

    Practice answering questions in a direct manner to avoid either of these forms of over-talking.  Use role-playing to prepare for your interview and avoid excessive, nervous talking.

  4. Saying negative things about your current or past employers or managers.

    Even if your last boss was Attila the Hun, avoid stating your ill feelings about the person or work situation. No matter how reasonable your complaints, your negative comments will be viewed as disrespect towards your boss. When faced with the challenge of talking about former employers, make sure you are prepared with a positive spin on your experiences.
  5. Giving away too much salary and earnings information.

    Candidates often weaken their future earning potential by speaking too freely about their current income. No matter the official salary range of the position you are interviewing for, your current earnings have an enormous effect on the size of the offer. Investing in a career coach to help you answer salary questions can add thousands of dollars to your new job offer.


You already know that it takes a strong résumé that sets you apart as a candidate of choice to be invited for an interview. The next step is to hone your interviewing skills to actually win job offers. Polishing your interview skills can mean the difference between getting the job and being a runner-up.

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Deborah Walker, CCMC is a Career Coach helping job seekers compete in the toughest economy. Her clients gain top performing skills in resume writing, interview preparation and salary negotiation. Read more job-search tips here.