7 Things You’re Doing That Read As Red Flags In A First Interview


So, you made it through the application process and you’re going to your initial interview for a potential new job — congrats! Whether it’s your first interview or your tenth, you can always afford to learn new ways to perfect your interviewing skills… and learn when you’re doing something wrong. Knowing the right etiquette can be the difference between scoring the job and your interviewer seeing nothing but red flags. Avoid these seven common interview mistakes at all costs.

1. Being Late


This point seems fairly obvious… until the day of the interview when you miscalculated your travel time and you’re sure that your interviewer will understand why you’re three minutes late. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

“At this stage in the process it’s about impressing the prospective employer, and timeliness matters,” Amy Ryan, the principal consultant and owner of AJR Consulting, told Swirled. We think it’s safe to assume that keeping any interviewer waiting is an immediate strike against you.

2. Giving A Bad Handshake

Having a firm handshake can make all the difference during a first impression and can even make your interviewer feel more comfortable than if you offered a weak or overly aggressive handshake. Though you shouldn’t obsess over having the perfect exchange, you should keep it in mind when meeting anyone at the company.

3. Lacking Eye Contact

Like figuring out your best handshake game, you want to make sure you’re appearing confident by looking your interviewer straight in the eyes when talking or listening to them. Not looking at your interviewer could convey that your confidence is low or that you’re not totally interested, even though you could just be introverted or not realize you’re doing it.

4. Dressing Too Casually


“If you look in the mirror and question your outfit, change it,” said Ryan. Though all workplaces are different (along with their dress codes), you should think critically about what you’re going to wear to your interview. Even if you show up and see employees wearing athleisure, you’ll be better off overdressing for the interview than underdressing. No one will dock you for wearing a sharp suit or a nice dress.

5. Lacking Questions About The Role Or Organization

Even if you’re not talking to a potential direct supervisor, you should always ask questions about the organization and the position to whomever you’re speaking with.

“A good candidate who is interested in the job will have questions for the HR person, and those questions will be meaningful in terms of the performance expectations and company culture and history,” said Ryan. This means going beyond questions like, “How much vacation time will I get?”

6. Speaking Poorly Of Others

No matter what kind of shenanigans happened at your past job (we all have stories), keep them to yourself during a job interview unless you can make those stories sound positive and prove that you learned a meaningful lesson through them. Talking smack about people who used to lead you or work with you will never look great on you, specifically because you’ll look unprofessional and gossipy. The last thing any organization wants is to mess up its company culture by bringing in someone who will contribute negatively to the team atmosphere, and that’s what you look like when you speak poorly of others in an interview.

7. Not Bringing The Necessary Materials


Everyone knows you should bring copies of your resumé along to an interview, but make sure to check with your contact about exactly what to bring — and prepare beyond that. Think about reference sheets, multiple pens in case the one you’re using dies and a notebook to take solid notes. Pack more than you think you need, you know, just in case.