1. Get the Job
  2. Get Ahead
  3. Office Life
  4. Work-Life Balance
  5. Home Office
Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.
Build Your Career Get the Job

The Number One Thing to Avoid Doing in a Job Interview

The Number One Thing to Avoid Doing in a Job Interview
Credit: Bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock

Nothing hurts your chances of landing a job more than checking your phone during an interview, according to new research.

More than three-quarters of executives remove candidates from consideration if the person uses his or her cellphone during the interview, according to a study from the staffing firm The Creative Group.

Showing up late without acknowledging it; failing to bring items that were requested, such as a resume, portfolio or references; wearing improper interview attire; and speaking poorly of a previous employer round out the other top five job-interview deal breakers.

"Hiring managers typically assume candidates are putting their best foot forward during job interviews, so any sign of unprofessional or unproductive behavior makes a big impact, no matter how qualified the person may be for the position," Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, said in a statement. "Job seekers should do everything they can to tip the scales in their favor, including paying attention to the smallest details." [6 Common Sense Ways to Ace Your Next Job Interview ]

To help job seekers, The Creative Group offers several tips on how to avoid the top five blunders that can sink a job interview:

  • No phones: Even before stepping inside for your interview, make sure your phone is turned off and put away. While it may be tempting to check your email or browse the Web while waiting for the interview to begin, you are better off sitting patiently and reading over any company literature that is available in the lobby. Keeping your phone off will help ensure you give the interviewer your undivided attention.
  • Show up early: Arriving even a couple minutes late to an interview can  send a signal to hiring managers that you don't respect their schedules. But it could also cause you to miss out on the interview altogether. Rather than trying to be right on time, plan to arrive 10 minutes early. Besides showing the prospective employer that you are punctual, the extra time will give you a chance to calm your nerves before the interview starts. If you are running late, call ahead and explain the reason for the delay.
  • Don't come empty handed: Never assume that the interviewer will have all of your application materials. In case they don't, it's best to bring extra copies of your resume. In addition, if you have a portfolio of past work they might want to see, bring a laptop or tablet with you so you can easily present it.
  • Dress to impress: While many companies today have laid-back dress codes, it's still not a good idea to show up wearing something too casual. Try researching the company's dress code, and wear something that's slightly more formal.
  • Don't bash former employers: Hiring managers may question your professionalism and attitude if you spend time during your interview badmouthing formers employers, bosses, co-workers or clients. While it's sometimes appropriate to discuss work-related challenges you've had in the past, tread lightly during these conversations. Being able to describe difficult situations diplomatically can boost your chances of landing the job.

The study was based on surveys of 200 advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees and 200 marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.

See All