To share this story, choose your platform.

What not to do during interview

No matter how talented you are, or how experienced you are, you can flunk out at an interview by doing small things that make a big difference to the impression you leave a prospective employer. The same goes when being interviewed by a recruiter.

Always remember that the interview is your time to shine and leave a memorable impression of your personality, skills and presentation abilities. Your resume can score 100, but not managing yourself well during interview can drop that score to a big fat zero and see you immediately disqualified.

Here are our top 30 tips for what NOT to do during interview.

  1. Never turn up late. If you can’t avoid this (and the reason better be a good one), call ahead and provide as much notice as possible.
  2. Never enter the interview room and just sit down. Wait to be offered a seat. This shows a high level of etiquette and manners.
  3. Never give a weak handshake or a handshake that’s too hard.
  4. Never go into an interview unprepared. Do your research. Practice answers. Be ready to give examples.
  5. Never bad mouth a previous employer or tell horror stories about the past companies you’ve worked for, or their staff.
  6. Don’t blame others for your mistakes, which will make you appear to have a lack of accountability.
  7. Never interrupt someone who is talking. This is just plain rude.
  8. Don’t start answers with ‘um’ or ‘ah’, which will show you lack confidence.
  9. Don’t speak in a monotone voice—you’ll appear unenergetic and disengaged.
  10. Don’t ramble on and on when answering a question. Stay on point.
  11. Don’t forget to listen carefully and directly answer the question.
  12. Don’t avoid eye contact. This can be misinterpreted as lack of confidence or interest or weak interpersonal skills.
  13. Don’t play favourites by speaking directly to one or two members of a panel and ignoring the others.
  14. Never lie.
  15. Don’t become too familiar or ask personal questions.
  16. Don’t discuss money, unless the interviewers bring it up (if working with a recruiter, refer interviewers back to the recruiter for salary negotiations).
  17. Don’t ask for flexible hours, time off or bonuses until further through the process.
  18. Never answer a call on your phone or text. Turn your phone off. Don’t even leave it on vibrate.
  19. Never swear or use slang, even if an interviewer is doing so.
  20. Don’t slouch. Good posture makes you look more professional and alert.
  21. Don’t play with anything on the table—your fingers, pen, phone or notepad. Stay focused.
  22. Don’t fidget or shift around in your seat, which will signal you’re uncomfortable with the process.
  23. Never appear arrogant in your body language or answers to questions. This includes crossing your arms over your chest.
  24. Don’t forget to smile, which will make you come across as warm and engaging.
  25. Don’t turn up inappropriately dressed, wearing revealing or overly casual clothing. Don’t under dress. Always go up a level or two. And don’t leave it to the last minute to decide what to wear. Have your outfit cleaned and ready. Make sure your shoes aren’t scuffed.
  26. Don’t overload on aftershave or perfume, which can be overbearing and inconsiderate, especially in interview rooms when the door is usually closed.
  27. Don’t smell of body odour, which is off-putting. Consider buying an extra strong deodorant.
  28. Don’t turn up smelling like cigarettes, alcohol or strong foods like garlic.
  29. Don’t chew gum or eat.
  30. Don’t continually look at your watch, which will signal you can’t wait for the interview to be over.

Keen to learn more?

Weaknesses: Be strong with your answers.

Making a memorable impression at interview.

22 most frequently asked interview questions.

How to dress for a job interview.

Follow us and sign up

Follow us on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter for expert articles and other valuable information.

Subscribe for our free job alerts.

Register with us and set up an interview with one of our recruiters.


To share this story, choose your platform.

Register today

We can help you find your perfect job

Whether it’s your first job, a new job, a career change, a promotion or re-entering the workforce after a break, we’re here. face2face will help you create a winning resume, boost your interview skills, and support you to find your perfect position.

Register today