The 13 Things You Should Never Do In a Job Interview (But Everyone Does Anyway)

Landing a top job is never easy - and sometimes, you can be your own worst enemy. Here are some things you should avoid.

If you want to secure any new job in 2024, you’re going to have to go up against other qualified applicants as part of an interview process. Even if you interview well, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the role – so you’ve got to do everything you can to give yourself the best shot.

While it’s naturally important to know what to do in an interview, being aware of the little things that trip otherwise excellent interviewees up all the time is equally important.

So, myself and the rest of the team have dug through the interview feedback they’ve given out to prospective employees over the past few years – as well as some they’ve received themselves – to compile the ultimate list of things you should never, ever do during a job interview. In this guide, we cover:

8 Things You Should Never Do in an Interview

Here, we’ll go through some things you should never do in an in-person interview, but many of them apply to remote interviews too. If you’re looking specifically for remote interview red flags, however, scroll down to the next section.

We’ve left out the infinite list of obvious things you should never do in an interview – such as starting a fistfight with the interviewer – and focused instead on common mistakes that people make, sometimes without realizing.

Here are the top eight we’ve compiled for in-person interviews:

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  1. Turn Up Late
  2. Dress too Casually
  3. Argue With Feedback
  4. Criticize The Company
  5. Exhibit Negative Body Language
  6. Give No Examples
  7. Avoid Talking About Your Weaknesses
  8. Ask No Questions

1. Turn up late

First impressions count, and perhaps the worst possible start you can give yourself at any job interview – either in person or remotely – is to turn up late.

While this may seem obvious, you’d be surprised at how many people are late for interviews – a recent survey of 850 hiring managers saw 93% of respondents put this top spot as the mistake most likely to put a candidate on the back foot.

If the job means a lot to you, you have to do everything in your power to ensure you’re there on time. Companies know this too, so lateness is usually an enormous red flag for most interviewers because almost every role in every industry requires good time management.

If your journey’s estimated time is 30 minutes, leave an hour to get there – it’s worth it. There’s no punishment for turning up a little early – and besides, arriving with a few minutes to catch your breath will serve you well.

2. Dress too casually

Working out precisely how to dress for an in-person interview in 2024 isn’t easy. A lot of companies now have a casual dress code for their employees, while others enforce a smart-casual dress code or expect business/office attire.

If you’re unsure, there’s one rule to follow – it’s better to overdress than it is to turn up underdressed. You’re unlikely to do yourself any favors turning up to a workplace in overly casual wear, whereas it would be pretty bizarre to turn down a qualified, well-prepared candidate because they wore formal attire to an interview.

So, it’s better to err on the side of caution. If you don’t have formal office wear and you’d rather not invest in some when there’s no need – there’s also no harm in clarifying the company’s office dress code with your contact.

3. Argue with feedback

For many job roles in 2024, interviewees may have to go through several rounds of interviews and complete tasks to show they’re up to the job.

However, these stages are sometimes used to assess your work and observe how you respond when given feedback. This can prove to be as important/pivotal to the final decision as your actual performance on the task.

If you’re given feedback at any point in the interview, it’s best simply to acknowledge it, take it on board, and if you feel able to, suggest what you might do differently next time considering the new information you’ve been given. Responding poorly to feedback will be seen as red flag, with employees thinking you’re overly negative and argumentative.

4. Criticize the company

Some interviewees think that coming up with improvements from the get-go shows initiative and promise. And, while you may be asked for your opinion on a product or service produced by the company you’re interviewing for, you should take extra care to word your feedback or views constructively.

Interviews are a chance to showcase your talents and talk about your achievements, and that’s what you should focus on. Ruthlessly trashing the design of your prospective employer’s website Simon Cowell-style is unlikely to help you portray yourself as an agent of positive change, nor will bluntly stating that the company’s business practices conflict with your personal ethics. Rather, it’ll just make your employer question why you applied in the first place.

There’s nothing more unnerving than interviewing someone bragging that they could do a better job of something – especially when they’re an outsider with very little knowledge of the internal processes and factors inevitably impacting products, services, or assets.

Of course, if there’s a mid-interview task where you’re directly asked for feedback on a design, product, or project, that’s a very different matter.

5. Exhibit negative body language

Although everyone exhibits body language they can’t really control, being conscious of a few key do’s and don’ts can help minimize this.

For example, maintaining eye contact when you’re talking and directly addressing your interviewer is crucial. Being unable to maintain eye contact makes conversations stilted and uncomfortable, and it will appear as if you’re unsure of what you’re saying – not the vibe you want when talking about your greatest achievements. If this is something you’re not naturally comfortable with, practice talking in front the mirror, keeping eye contact with yourself.

Another one to avoid is folding your arms – this is a defensive, closed-off posture that people often revert to when they’re upset or annoyed.

6. Give no (or too few) examples

This is a great example of a common mistake that lots of interviewees make without even realizing.

In an interview, you’re going to be asked questions to tease out how well prepared you are for a specific job role – and simply stating that you are a good communicator or project manager isn’t going to cut it.

You’re going to need to give examples to showcase that you’re qualified for the role – and a lots of them. Giving too few examples – or none at all – of your achievements will make it look like you’re trying to bluff your way to securing a role you’re underqualified for.

It’s much better to come armed with too many examples than too few, and you’re more likely to impress interviewers if you can offer them several examples. You can even ask them how many they’d like to hear, if you’ve got plenty to choose from.

7. Avoid talking about your weaknesses

One of the most popular interview questions that almost anyone who has applied for a job will recognize is the “What do you consider to be your biggest weakness” style of query.

Being unprepared to talk about your weaknesses comes across as defensive and unreflective. Companies want employees who can recognize their pitfalls and work on them, and it’s a chance to show that you can grow within your role and the business.

On that note, you have to make sure the weaknesses you do talk about are actual weaknesses – but be careful. Avoid phrasing your weakness as a strength that you perceive yourself to take to the extreme (e.g. “Sometimes, I let myself work too hard!”) as this may come across as if you aren’t comfortable addressing weaknesses.

But at the same time, be careful you’re not sabotaging yourself by being too honest (e.g. “I have never been able to organize anything in my life”). Granted, it’s a tough tightrope to walk, but if you just consider this question ahead of time and rehearse your answers, you’ll look well-prepared, reflective, and competent.

8. Ask no questions

At the end of most interviews, interviewees tend to give applicants the chance to ask questions. While these questions aren’t likely to make or break the interview, having no questions to ask can leave the interviewer questioning whether you’re actually interested in the role – especially considering that it only takes 5 minutes to think of a couple.

Conversely, interesting end-of-interview questions can illustrate you’re trying to make a measured, informed decision about the job. It will show you’ve spent sufficient time researching and understanding the company, and made the effort to come to the interview prepared – and that you care about the role in question.

While we’re discussing questions, make sure the questions you do end up asking are sensible, relevant, and interesting. While a jokey “What time is lunch?” might land well in some informal or casual interviews, it’s a risky way to close what may otherwise have been a solid interview.

5 Things You Should Never Do in a Remote Interview

  1. Join the Call With Your Camera Off
  2. Take the Call from a Public Location
  3. Leave Your Tech Checks to the Last Minute
  4. Jumping in to Answer too Quickly
  5. Forget About Your Background

1. Join the call with your camera off

This is the “turning up late” of remote interviews. Arriving in the call with your camera off – and attempting to leave it off for the interview, for whatever reason – is a completely avoidable way to make a resoundingly bad first impression.

Of course, if you forget to turn it on and immediately rectify this once realizing within seconds of joining the call, it’s not going to be catastrophic – but having to be asked to turn your camera on to continue the interview will simply make you look unprofessional.

2. Leave your tech checks to the last minute

In the age of remote interviews, there’s a whole new aspect to your pre-interview prep that you have to consider – the reliability of the devices and software you’re using to make calls.

Checking your tech before your interview is a must. Although it may not be your fault if something isn’t working, to your interviewer – who may be talking to dozens of applicants for your role – you might just be remembered as the one who was late.

Once you’ve been sent your meeting invite, you’ll know what platform the call will be on (such as Zoom or Google Meet). You may require a desktop client or other software to make the call, so make sure you download well ahead of time.

Secondly, test your internet connection before the interview – we’d advise not waiting until the last minute to ensure you can actually take the call. Third, it’s always good as a rule of thumb to plug your laptop in before your interview starts – you don’t want to have to rush off mid-answer to get a charger or cut out mid-call.

3. Take the call from a public location

Another tip that may seem obvious to some is to never take an interview call from a busy, unconventional location, such as a restaurant, cafe, street or even in the back of a taxi. However, since the pandemic, there have been countless examples of people doing this.

While it says little about how qualified you are role, it does say quite a bit about how much you’re prioritizing the interview in your day, and in turn, how much you care about the job. An interview should be the main event in your day – as anyone who’s really wanted a job will tell you – not a chat you have “on the way” to some other appointment.

In other words, If you’re not prepared to put dedicated time aside to concentrate on the interview, how will you be able to convince the employer that you’re going to be willing to turn up every day, and give it your all? It just makes your job harder.

If you have a genuine technical issue with your internet connection that simply cannot be solved in time for the interview, inform the company beforehand and explain your situation. Then, take some time to scope out an alternative, professional-looking venue, such as a friend’s home, or a remote office.

4. Jumping in to answer too quickly

As anyone who’s been on a remote call before will know all too well, sometimes, a slight delay can lead to a disjointed conversation, with people inadvertently talking over each other.

While a little bit of this is natural – and you’re unlikely to be penalized for it – resisting the urge to jump in and leaving a natural break between your questions and answers is advised.

Along with ensuring there’s no remote call-induced confusion, taking pauses and not rushing into answers will make you come across as thoughtful and ensure you consider the question appropriately.

5. Forget to consider your background

A candidate can interview brilliantly and have a glowing resume, but if there’s something strange going on in the background of their call, it can immediately put an employer off.

This could be anything from a messy room to a silly poster or a packet of cigarettes. The point is that what you have on screen will impact your employer’s perception of you in a remote interview in the same way how you dress will in an in-person one.

Of course, we’d highly advise against virtual backgrounds for interviews – especially some of the more informal ones provided by Zoom – as it poses the risk that you might come across like you’re not taking it as seriously as you should. A plain background, or one that blurs your environment however, are safe bets.

Whether you’re interviewing in person or over a remote call, focusing on the things that will help you leave a good and lasting impression should be priority one. But being aware of the often subtle or subconscious behaviors, comments, actions, and body language that come together to create a bad one is also useful when you’re gunning for a top role.

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Written by:
Aaron Drapkin is a Lead Writer at He has been researching and writing about technology, politics, and society in print and online publications since graduating with a Philosophy degree from the University of Bristol five years ago. As a writer, Aaron takes a special interest in VPNs, cybersecurity, and project management software. He has been quoted in the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Computer Weekly, Cybernews, and the Silicon Republic speaking on various privacy and cybersecurity issues, and has articles published in Wired, Vice, Metro, ProPrivacy, The Week, and covering a wide range of topics.
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