Biggest Interview Mistakes from HR Professionals

Every Human Resources management professional can provide a list of huge mistakes made by job candidates. For example:

  • If you wear a hairpiece, put it on straight for your interview
  • Refrain from chewing gum during the interview.
  • Don’t wear so much cologne or perfume that it makes the interviewer's eyes water.

These are just a few examples and if you want to get it right, consider how to avoid these and other big mistakes. 


HR professionals are not insensitive to unique events like a blizzard or hurricane. Otherwise, you have no excuse for being late. The recruiter's time is valuable, and other people are waiting for scheduled interviews.

  • Be on time. Plan to arrive 10 - 15 minutes early. Make a dry-run the day before, so you can anticipate problems.
  • When early, look the place over. You can tell a lot about the culture by watching employees as they talk to each other. 
  • Be very courteous to the staff before the interview starts. The Interviewer will ask them for their impressions.  


HR professionals put considerable emphasis on first impressions. It is only one piece of their assessment, but it is important, and your appearance the first time they meet you plays a big factor. They do prefer the candidates who could competently represent the company.

  • Do not overdress. Do not dress for the prom or a girl's night out. Leave the “bling” at home. 
  • Dress for the job. For example, if the job is in a garage, do not want to wear shorts and a muscle shirt. Wear a clean dress shirt tucked into Docker's type slacks. If you want an office position, dress a bit better than you would for work. If the job is in management, men should wear dark suits, and women do well to wear a classic dress or a suit in subdued or dark colors. 
  • Be groomed. Whatever level the job is, appear groomed: hair cut, nails clean, and shoes shined. 
  • Leave your cell phone in the car.
  • Carry something. It helps to hold a small purse or resume folder in your lap. Squeezing it transfers your anxiety.


The HR professional wants to match you to the job. They do not have a lot of interest in the way you see yourself.

  • Watch the pronouns. If you use "I" a lot, your ego's in the way of doing the job. It is smarter to use "we" wherever you can. Or, keep the focus on the job, the company, the duties, and so on.
  • Write a "commercial" for yourself. They do not want to hear about your kids, church, divorce, or time in rehab. Explain yourself in terms of the job you are seeking.  
  • Smile confidently. Relax as best you can, and appear calm and confident. 


HR interviewers usually have a form in front of them, a checklist of characteristics prepared to align with the job. But, the interviewer is less interested in the content of your answers than the way you handle the question. For this reason, your communication during an interview is critical.

  • Listen attentively. Do not answer a question that has not been asked. 
  • Take your time. Take a breath after the question. Repeat the question in a slightly modified version.
  • Do your research. Check the company's website, but also surf for "reviews." Talk to friends or family who work there. And, use what you know to frame your questions. 
  • Ask open questions. While it is important that you ask questions, practice open questions that will keep the interviewer talking. 
  • Tell the truth! Do not falsify documents or answers to questions.

People will say, "I am who I am, and they have to take me for what I am!" But, the fact is they do not. The job interview is a little drama that we participate in. The HR person and the candidate have roles to play. But, the candidate's chance of being chosen lies in the ability to participate fully because HR has the upper hand.

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