6 Interview Mistakes and How to Fix Them

You may think that faux pas you made during your interview means you’re out of the running. But there are some surprisingly simple steps you can take to remedy the situation and improve your skills for next time.


You’ve probably heard at least some of these classic interview tips: dress for success, arrive on time, research the employer, and follow up with a thank you afterwards. But what if you still aren’t hearing back? You may be committing one of these lesser-known but equally important interview sins.

You Didn’t Realize When the Interview Started

One of the biggest mistakes that candidates make is not recognizing when the interview is actually starting. “Interviews start the minute you enter the building,” says Jonathan Friedman, Managing Director, Friedman Williams. “You might walk to a reception floor of any company, the person that greets you at that reception desk may not be the receptionist. They may strategically have the person you’re meeting with sitting right there. If you haven’t look them up on LinkedIn, seen their face, done a little research on the company, you may not realize you’re starting right then and there.”

We all know researching the company with which you’re interviewing is a must. But don’t forget to do some research on the individuals you’re interviewing with as well. Having an idea of what the members of senior leadership look like will also help to avoid an awkward situation.

You Focused on the Job, Not the Person

Another mistake is zeroing in on the role, and forgetting about the person sitting in front of you. Friedman says to pay attention to the things on the walls of their office and desk. “It’s not so much that Mike or Nancy worked at NBC for four years and then went over the MTV. All good stuff, and you can use that to your advantage,” he says. “But if you’re working with a recruiter, tell me about the person I’m meeting with. Do they have children? Do they have hobbies? If you research them on LinkedIn, what do you find about them? If you can spend the first five or ten minutes talking to someone in an interview situation and you're actually not talking about the job, you’re doing a great job.”

You Got Tripped Up on a Question

If you stumble over your words or draw a blank during an interview, all is not lost. Friedman says the best thing you can do after an interview is to digest what took place and, within 24 hours, send some correspondence to the person you met with to touch on some of the things that came up. “Whether it’s just reinforcing your interest in the opportunity, or sometimes if there was a question or two that you weren’t prepared for, now is your chance to answer it in a comfortable, relaxed way where you can really formulate your ideas.”

For next time, Ina Rose, Founder of Passion 4 People Consulting, suggests having a few stories that you’re comfortable with that you can frame to answer any question your interviewer might throw at you.

Rose also suggests taking the questions you expect to be asked and record yourself answering them. “It’s really hard to be succinct and get in everything you want. You don’t want to run on and you don’t want to sound stupid,” she says. “Just keep recording yourself. Ask your friends, ‘can I do a mock interview with you?’ Just practice. Especially if you’ve been in a job for a long time and this is your first time out. It’ll make you feel better if you practice and work out some of the kinks.”

You Have a Big Gap on Your Resume

This isn’t exactly a mistake, but it’s a common hurdle for job seekers. Consultant for Dergel Executive Search Samuel Dergel’s advice: Own it.

Dergel recommends including the reason for the gap right on your resume. “Usually you haven’t really been out of work for two years, you’ve done something.  You can call it consulting,” he says. “If it’s a personal, family issue, or a health issue, put it as a one-liner. Don’t ignore it.”

When asked about the gap, Friedman says to be open and honest, but also prepared. “Here’s the truth, here’s what happened, here’s what I’ve done, here’s what I’m looking to do going forward. Own it but also know how you want to deliver it.”

You Don’t Add Comments

If you aren’t using a recruiter, or you’re sending out your resume on your own, and there’s an opportunity to add comments, take advantage.

“The biggest mistake a lot of candidates make in their own job searches is – we hear it all the time, ‘ I sent out  fifty resumes today’ – I guarantee you won’t get a phone call back,” says Friedman. “There’s always a place through every portal, after you upload your resume, to add comments. And that’s your key. Share something, like why you’re interested in this opportunity. Believe me, it’s going to get read before your resume gets read.”

You Didn’t Ask for the Job

This final mistake might seem obvious, but many of us forget to actually ask for the job.

“You can say something along the lines of, ‘Everything I’ve heard through this whole process has only made me want this role more. What do you need to hear from me that we haven’t talked about that will help me close this deal?” says Rose.

“Don’t ever leave a meeting without the next step on the calendar. “When you close the meeting, know all the steps in the process. Know all the people you’re going to have to meet and how long it’s all going to take. Remember: You’re interviewing them too. I’ve got other irons in the fire.”