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INTERVIEWS: Common Interview Mistakes & How to Avoid them

Written by Ann Mossop, Employment Specialist with Next-Steps Employment Centre – Downsview


Job candidates are always asking us for quick tips and short cuts to help them ace job interviews. In today’s labour market, these tried and true recommendations increase your chances for consideration in a hiring decision. There are no short-cuts.  Here are the 5 most common interview mistakes and effective strategies that when implemented, can improve your chances of success and make you a top contender for the position.

1) Going in unprepared. Interviewers know when you have not prepared, and this will make them think that you are unmotivated or not interested in the role. Preparation is key!

  • Create an Interview research binder and write out your answers to anticipated questions, especially if English is a second language. Contribute to this binder on an ongoing basis so that you can build and improve your answers during your job search.
  • Research the company website thoroughly; know the industry, what services or products they offer, the business sector and the field of competitors.
  • Prepare a 30 Second Summary or an Elevator Speech targeting the position that you are interviewing for in answer to the question, “Tell Me About Yourself”.
  • Attend the Interview workshop at Next-Steps Employment Centre to fully understand techniques of how to answer behavioural questions. Prepare examples from your past experience and accomplishments to share.
  • Practice delivering your answers in front of a mirror, on video or with an Employment Specialist in a Practice Interview.

2) Dressing inappropriately. Dress for success: we dress-up for an interview to make a great first impression.  In the interviewer’s mind, this is you at your best because this is an important meeting. Business attire that includes dress pants, jacket, tailored shirt and dress shoes are likely appropriate for most circumstances. Do your research to dress appropriately for the company and industry. It’s much better to be too dressed up than too casual. Jeans and running shoes are never appropriate.

3) Not asking any questions. Always have questions that you want to ask the interviewer. Write them out prior to the interview and refer to them in your portfolio when asked. Your questions often illustrate your interest and tell interviewers about your thought processes and commitment to the opportunity at hand.

4) Running out the second the interview is over. It is important to end on a strong note, and to “Close the Deal”. Know when the interview is over and act on that cue. This signifies your last chance during the interview, to assertively sell yourself and for you to recap the conversation and discussions that have just transpired. Here are important points to cover in a powerful closing:

  • Make a strong closing statement to re-iterate your interest in the position and why you are a good fit. Why should they hire you?
  • Smile, thank them for their time.
  • Give a firm handshake if one was offered at the beginning by the Interviewer.
  • Ask for a business card if one has not been presented or ask for permission to get contact information from reception on your way out.
  • Ask when they are making a hiring decision and when you can call to follow-up.

5) Assuming you didn’t get it and giving up. A follow-up is extremely important! Find a quiet place to debrief and reflect on positive elements of your interview and areas to improve after your interview.  Send a ‘Thank You‘ email within 24 hours and do any other follow-up requested in the interview (references, etc.).



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