What’s the worst thing you can do at an interview?

We all make mistakes. Even at interviews.

But before you start letting your nerves get the better of you, the good news is that most interview nightmares are easy to avoid. It all comes down to preparation – as well as knowing which things are likely to turn recruiters off.

We’ve already covered some of the things you should never do, but we spoke to students to find out what they thought was the worst thing you can do at an interview:



Don’t be late

It sounds obvious – but you’d be surprised just how many interviewees don’t turn up on time.

Lateness isn’t just rude, it also makes you look like you aren’t taking the opportunity seriously. After all, if you’re not professional enough to arrive on time for an interview, how can an employer guarantee you’ll be any different if they actually decide to offer you the position?

And with 40% of recruiters calling lateness the worst thing you can do at an interview, it only emphasises the need to get your timing (and route) sorted before you set off.

Also, maybe buy an alarm clock. That too.


Do prepare

91% of recruiters we surveyed said candidates should prepare a list of questions before they come to an interview.

And although being over prepared can be a concern for some, in reality it’s far better to have a few key notes written down than coming into the interview with nothing at all.

The same applies when it comes to interview questions. Practicing a few answers beforehand will ensure you won’t be caught off-guard. Even if it’s just going through with them family and friends.

At the very least, you’ll avoid awkward pauses when the ‘what type of animal would you be’ question comes up…

Questions to ask at the end of a job interview


Don’t forget body language

Finally, never underestimate the power of eye-contact.

Aside from showing your enthusiasm and attention is fully on the conversation, you’ll also ensure that your interviewer knows you aren’t intimidated by the situation.

Other body language points to consider include handshake (think firm and friendly, rather than dead fish) and smiling. And yes, it actually helps.

Potential body language fails to avoid at interviews include fidgeting, slouching and chewing gum.

Also, they don’t like it when you cry.

Body language: dos and don’ts



If you need more interview advice, try reading our pre-interview checklist and tips on preparing for interviews.



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2 comments on “What’s the worst thing you can do at an interview?

  1. Stuart Banks - August 7, 2017 at 20:20

    I found there was nothing more off-putting for me and trying to adopt eye contact with the interviewer than the incredibly squeaky and uncomfortably, high backed and broken office chair I had been given to sit on. I feel it was done deliberately because all of the candidates were interviewed in the same glass paneled office.

    1. mmcg968 - September 6, 2018 at 07:11

      Should’ve have asked if they could change the chair. Perhaps it was a test?