What NOT to do in an interview

So, you've Lost You Job and you've Got An Interview For A Job You Want, it's time to get down to business and wow them.

Interviews can be a daunting prospect to even the most seasoned professional, and for anyone going through the process the internet is full of guides and top tips for you to trip over in preparation. Nervously hounding Google for hint and tips is a position that most of us have been in at one time or another, and can be helpful. But it can also be a hindrance.

Amongst all the do’s, what to wears, and questions to ask there is a little scared you with big scared eyes and a sudden realisation of a giant boardroom filled only with the world’s biggest table behind which sits a large panel of scary faces waiting for you to wear red, stutter and tell them that you dream about killing their children in your sleep.....

The reality is interviews aren’t like that at all. And, as helpful as those guides can be, they certainly aren’t a one size fits all solution. And, with all the do’s, what are the don’ts?

Well, that list can be longer than the do’s list and can contradict every single interview 'do' going. There are, however, some don’ts that are a one size fits all, and that, unfortunately, people forget to follow. So once you’ve settled on the prefect heel height, discarded your chewing gum, practised your generic answers, and smiled at yourself in a mirror a thousand times just to make sure your smile isn’t a gurn, have a look at the top things NOT to do in an interview:

1.) Forget to be yourself.

Ultimately, you need to remember that this is an interview for a job that you will be spending your precious time on, if they can’t handle you being yourself then maybe, just maybe it isn’t worth it. I’ve worked in jobs where being myself just wasn’t accepted, outright judgement was rife and it was oppressive. It soon starts to ebb away at you and your confidence, and before your know it you are on a downward spiral to demotivation and job loathing. Prevent it by showing them who you are from the off.

All of those Pinterest quotes about life being too short are nothing short of relevant here:
Success will not happen if you are unhappy and demotivated. If you can’t be yourself in a work environment, where you spend such a large portion of your life, then can you truly be happy? Show them who you are, give them that opportunity to figure out how fabulous you are, and if they don’t agree then walk away with the knowledge that it wouldn’t have worked out.

You’re fabulous, don’t hide it.

2.) Forget that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you

This is a big one that people really do forget! Yes, you saw the job and decided that you wanted it. But you have an image in your head of what that job is going to be, and chances are the actual job, and the company, are going to be absolutely nothing like that.

I have had far too much experience of trying to impress them but forgetting that they need to impress me too, to mention. But a prime example is an interview I attended earlier this year. The job in question sounded like my dream job, everything sounded perfect; the subject matter, the location, the job description, even the company it was of great interest! Sure, the job description included a few lines of things that I wasn’t too keen on, but it was not enough to put me off. I was over the moon when I got an interview and after making sure I put on my lucky pants (sad but tragically true) I sat in the interview pulling out every key phrase, practical example and professional flourish I had in my arsenal. Not one of these things helped when the interviewers gave each other a sideways glance and came clean about the reality of the job. Turns out those two lines of iffy tasks were in fact the whole job, the rest was pretty much all advert. It all came crashing down around my ears and I left the interview not only having written off the job, but also the company. Whilst devious job adverts are by no means unusual, I hold no time for companies that try to pull the wool over your eyes before you start.

You need to make sure in your interview that you would be happy working for them. Working at a company is not a hierarchy, it’s a partnership, and you should both be able to give and take, in whatever form that may take. Just remember, whilst yes you need to suss them out, be polite, don’t go in there arrogantly declaring that they need to impress you; it is still an interview, they do still hold the power. Just remember that you have a little power too.

3.) Offend the interviewer

So simple, yet so often happens! Offending the interviewer is an easy mistake to make, and while it can lead to some hilarious stories for the pub, is ultimately a massive career downfall.

Something as simple as letting a door go rather than holding it open can make the biggest difference. Mr M once ran to open a door for a lady who had her hands full as he was going in for his interview, turns out (in all its predictability) that the woman was one of his interviewers. Brownie point in the bag! However, I have also heard of occasions when a friend has gone to an interview and made a harmless, passing comment about a rival football team only to walk into the interviewers office to be confronted with the office of the that teams biggest fan (I’m talking rugs, wall hanging, and signed photos type fan). Needless to say it is widely assumed that the passing comment about the interviewers beloved team was the nail in the coffin on that interview. 

Starting on a back foot is hard to recover from so it’s easier to stay completely neutral on testy subjects:

“Hey, do you support UKIP?”
“Urm, to be honest I have mixed political views, whilst I see some value in some of their policies I understand how they can be a fair left choice for others.”

Political minefield: bossed.

4.) Decline a drink of water

When you are offered a drink of water, regardless of whether you need it, take it. I don’t care whether you like water or not, if it’s on offer: TAKE IT.

When that difficult question comes along, you know the ones: “Can you give us an example of when…..” and your mind suddenly and unhelpfully turns around and says “hey, you know what we haven’t thought about in a while? Houla!” take a drink!

It’s a super simple way of buying yourself a little time and a bit of space to think of your answer without pulling your very attractive thinking face out and responding straightaway with “Urm…..”.

5.) Go unprepared

This you will find on every. Single. Guide. Ever heard of the 6 P’s? Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Take the time to research the company, their mission, and how it seems to operate. Check out their Social Media channels to gauge a tone of voice, or even if they have any - social channels that is.

Knowing a little about the company and reading up on the job can give you a little extra confidence in your arsenal. By showing willing to go and find out gives the interviewers a stronger impression of you and your traits. It shows them that you are proactive, you have research skills, you are willing to go that bit further, and even that you are competitive. Even if you only spend half an hour learning the key things about the company, it will make all the difference and gain you nothing but brownie points.

6.) Look at it in any other way than it being a fact finding chance to meet new people.

The minute you start to look at a job interview as this big scary event, it starts to become insurmountable. I know a lot of people who go into meltdown when they realise that they are facing an interview, and I’m not adverse to feeling the major pangs of nerves that have you reaching for a sedative, but strip it all back. Ultimately, your interviewers are still human. They have lives and personalities that are just begging to be discovered.

I like to think about interviews as an opportunity to meet new people. Take a minute to think about all the interesting people there are in the world, the grumpy old haggard fisherman with the strong accent and enough stories to fill a book. The eccentric ex-actress that lives in her chipped pearls and drinks heavily whilst retelling the stories of the glory days, the Great Gatsby’s of the world; tragically glamorous in the most unglamorous of ways. People like these hide everywhere, waiting for you to meet them, how do you know that the person you will be interviewed by isn’t a person your life has just been waiting for? The inspirational mentor, the wise cracking companion or even just a really normal fantastic new friend. You’ll never know until you go and find out. Interviewers aren’t there to trip you up and hope you fail. They are there to see how great you really are, and how well you will fit into their team. They are looking for your values, beliefs and skills.

View it as an opportunity to learn and you’ll open yourself up so much more than if you go in shy and nervous. Wow, them with your relaxed but enthusiastic attitude.

If you’re going for an interview soon let me know! If you’re not, have you had any bad/funny/excellent interviews? I love hearing interview stories!


  1. I have an interview for a dream job in the morning and your last point just made me feel SO at ease!! Ahh actually kind of excited for it now, thankyou so much!
    (ps, I'll update you on how it goes! ahaha)

    1. Thank you for reading it! I'm glad you feel a little more at ease!

      How did it go??

      B x

  2. Great post, interviews are something I find really difficult so could definitely use some tips! I agree that it is so important to be yourself, you don't want to sell a false version that you can't maintain!

    Bethan Likes

    1. Thanks Bethan!

      Interviews shouldn't be as scary as they are and sometimes the pressure of them leads people to doing so bizarre things!

      B x


Post a Comment

Popular Reading