6 job interview weaknesses that are too easy to pick up

Two businesswomen shaking hands.
(Image credit: Pixabay)

For many, a job interview can be an incredibly daunting experience that requires a lot of research and preparation. For others, it may be a regular event with which they are accustomed.

Either way, there is plenty of advice on how to stand out to a recruiter, but you should also be aware of these five weaknesses that you should avoid. They are easy to pick up, but with the right care and diligence, you can avoid these harmful habits.

Start Your New Job Search in Minutes with ZipRecruiter

Start Your New Job Search in Minutes with ZipRecruiter
With over 8 million jobs, ZipRecruiter is the one of the best places to start looking for your next job. Get started for free today.

1. Not making eye contact 

As well as helping you to form a bond with other people, making eye contact demonstrates your honesty. This allows a recruiter to see that you are trustworthy, helping to build mutual respect. This is because it’s more difficult to tell lies to somebody who is making eye contact, proving that your answers are well thought out and, most importantly, truthful. 

This can be a particularly difficult thing for introverted people to do, but fortunately, there are some techniques that can help. Rather than focusing on the interviewer and what he or she may be thinking, shift your focus to your answer to their question. Envisioning your answer in your head can help you to focus.

If you’re one of the many who will be taking part in an online interview, maybe using a video conferencing system, you are in luck as an introvert. Open another application or program on your screen to give you something else to focus on; notes of preparation for your interview are particularly useful!

2. Failing to do your research 

While an interview is a great opportunity for you to find out more about a company and a day in the life of an employee, you are expected to know a certain amount of information. To an interviewer, it can be obvious if you have not done your research.

Some questions will relate to you, while others will aim to uncover how you will work within the company. To be able to answer questions about what you can bring to the role or why you want to work at that business, you will need to know enough about the organization.

The easiest way to do this is to browse the company’s website, especially pages like ‘About Us’. Check what products or services the company offers and who it works with. You may want to know if there are other businesses working alongside this one, under one parent company. It’s also great to be familiar with competitors and how they operate.

If in doubt, never pretend to know something that you don’t.

3. Lack of interest 

You should be applying for a role because you are passionate about it, and recruiters will be able to tell if you’re applying for a stopgap job. Engage with the interviewer and, when it’s your chance, ask enough questions to show your interest.

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s possible to appear overly interested and even desperate. If you’re in great need of a job, try to hide your desperation. Employers will want to recruit a new worker because of their passion for the role and not their desperation.

You can also appear desperate not because you are, but because of nerves. If you have a known method to calm your nerves, great. If you don’t, try to distract yourself in a similar way to how you would if you struggle to make eye contact. 

4. Badmouthing current or previous employers 

A job interview is never the place to gossip about previous experiences, so even if your reason for leaving your previous place of work is perfectly reasonable, it’s best to frame things in a positive light.

Adopting a negative attitude throughout your interview will lead the interviewer to do the same about you, so rather than delving into the negative points, discuss some of the highlights about your previous role, such as the skills you developed or the results you achieved.

Your employer will want to know that, if and when you come to leave this role, you will not badmouth the company to others in the way you might be tempted to do with your previous position in this interview.

5. Not being familiar with your CV 

Nobody but you should write your CV or resume, and while you are well within your reasons to ask somebody to cast an eye over it, it should only be your work. It’s a great opportunity to showcase who you are and what you are capable of.

Not only this, you may be asked about it in your interview. You should be familiar with every detail in your interview and be prepared to answer more in-depth questions about any specific point. Not only can it be embarrassing if you are unable to answer a question, but it shows a lack of preparation.

6. Not Dressing Appropriately 

While it’s true that workplaces have never been so relaxed when it comes to dress code, the rules certainly remain a bit stricter with regards to interview clothing.

Even if the company in question has an extremely casual dress code, you should wear smart clothing to the interview. At this stage of the process, it’s not about adhering to company policy or fitting in with people who might end up being your colleagues – instead, you’ve got to show that you’re serious about the opportunity and serious about impressing the interviewer. And, no matter how casual the workplace, it won’t do your prospects any harm to show your professionalism through your clothing choices.

If you wear formal business dress then you can’t go too far wrong for most office jobs, and the rules here are pretty classic and well-established, so they’re easy to follow. If you’re applying to a job outside of office environments, than business-casual clothing should suffice.

Make sure you don’t wear dirty or broken clothing, ensure that you don’t wear clothes that look too tight or revealing, and avoid extravagant jewelry. These rules apply to in-person interviews and remote meetings, too.

If you’re unsure, it’s best to stay on the cautious side when picking clothes for a job interview – if the company has a more informal dress code in its day-to-day operations, you can adhere to that if you get the job.

We've featured the best recruitment platforms.

Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!

With contributions from