Six mistakes to avoid during a job interview

Ole I Iversen

A small mistake can make you lose out on your dream job. Here are six common mistakes to avoid in your next job interview.

For all roles in the commercial and public sector, it is usual to conduct one or more interviews in order to assess a candidate’s knowledge, ability, experience, as well as determining whether they are a suitable match for the job.

There is often little to separate between applicants, and small blunders may perhaps influence the decision towards or against you.

Six things to avoid

1. Showing up unprepared

Do not show up for a job interview unprepared, thinking that this is going to work out, “I’ll just wing it”. The interviewers will quickly notice whether you have familiarized yourself with the business and the role you have applied for. If you have not done this, you will not come across as particularly motivated. Your chances of landing the job are slim.  

During the interview, you should avoid looking down or away from the interviewer. Speak to the interviewer directly and remember to address everyone if there are several people present. It is preferable to talk slowly rather than fast. Keep your hands still, either in your lap or on the table, but avoid leaning forward or over the table. The latter makes you appear aggressive.

2. Do not badmouth previous employers or co-workers

It is never a good idea to talk negatively about current or previous employers. This also makes the person telling the story look bad. Refer to others in a polite and decent manner. Concentrate on what you have learned from prior experiences and your ability to collaborate and work with people who are different from you.

3.  Avoid talking all the time

Most interviewers have a plan for the interview, a list of questions and themes which they want to go through to map out the candidate’s competency and fit. Therefore, you should answer directly to their questions and avoid going to much off track about other topics.

If the candidate is overly talkative, the interviewer might perceive that they are not able to distinguish between what is important and what is not important. The interviewer might not have time to ask all their questions and will miss out on important information about the candidate. Thus, reducing the chance of being hired.

4. Do not portray yourself as someone else than who you are

Another mistake is to pretend to be someone other than who you are, assuming a role and implying that you have personal qualities that you do not have. In the worst-case scenario, you may end up in a job you are not suitable for , thus making you unhappy.

Assumed roles deteriorate over time and pretending to be someone other than who you really are gets tiring.

5. Do not brag too much about yourself

In a job interview, it is important to bring out your strengths and preferably provide concrete examples of what you have achieved in your previous roles. However, refrain from bragging endlessly about your skills and abilities. Do not take credit for the work of others. Be clear about your actual contributions in the situations you are describing.

Avoid half-truths and white lies or pretending to have experience with work tasks you really are unfamiliar with. A good interviewer will notice this immediately, affecting your chances of getting the job.

6. Do not ask about salary in your first interview

Normally, a candidate has to go through at least two interviews. The candidate should not ask questions related to salary or other perks in the first meeting.  An interviewer will usually ask about your salary expectations or current salary towards the end of the interview. If the topic has not been brought up, even when you have reached the end of the second interview, it is reasonable for you to bring it up.


Iversen, O. I. (2020) Rekrutterings- og intervjuteknikk, Fagbokforlaget.

A Norwegian version of this BI Business Review article was first published 25 March 2019.

Published 20. February 2023

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