10 Ways to Make a Bad Impression at an Interview and How to Avoid Them

Maddie Lloyd
by Maddie Lloyd
Get The Job, Guides - 2 years ago

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Job interviews can be tough. Along with preparing to answer the most common interview questions, conquering your nerves, and making sure you have all of the necessary materials — you also have to make sure you make a good impression on your interviewer.

Here’s the deal:

First impressions are important, especially when it comes to job interviews. People decide how they feel about someone within the first few minutes of meeting them. To make matters worse, it’s nearly impossible to recover from making a bad first impression, so you’ll want to make sure you do everything you can to make a good one.

Sound scary enough? Don’t panic! Making a good impression isn’t as hard as it seems. Keep reading to learn the 10 ways you can make a bad first impression at an interview, and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Wearing clothing that doesn’t reflect the company culture

What’s a great way to show that you just don’t “get” the company and would never, not ever, fit in at all? Dress in a way that doesn’t mirror the company culture! If you show up at a research lab wearing a clown costume, you can expect to stand out — in a bad way. Bonus tip: “Business casual” does not equate with “sweatpants.”

During an interview, you want to show employers that you’re going to fit in and be fun to work with. Do some research on the company to get a feel for their culture, and if you’re totally at a loss, just ask the person coordinating the interview for some input.

2. Looking like you just rolled out of bed

Speaking of how to dress for an interview, you should definitely look like you actually put some effort into picking out an outfit — not like you rolled out of bed, picked up whatever on the floor didn’t smell dirty, threw it on, and called it a day.

When picking out our interview outfit, avoid wrinkled shirts, anything with stains, scuffed or dirty shoes, five o’clock shadow, etc. Put some effort into your appearance so you can at least look like you care, even if you’re being forced to go to this interview by your dad who wants you to move out of the basement immediately. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in your parents’ basement for a long time.

3. Being too smelly

Whether you bathed yourself in a bottle of your grandmother’s vintage perfume or you haven’t showered in two (going on three) weeks, you can definitely expect your interviewer to not have the greatest impression of you.

Make sure to be clean to avoid smelling like a ripe gym sock, and if you do decide to wear perfume or cologne, keep it light. Your goal is to show the interviewer that you’d be a great addition to their team, not to suffocate them with your odor.

4. Having a bad attitude

Whether you’re being condescending to the receptionist, not using your manners, or just acting like a huge jerk in general, showing up to an interview with a chip on your shoulder is no way to land a job.

Being friendly and having a positive attitude at an interview is important, if not essential, in getting a job offer. You want to show employers that you’re kind, confident, and optimistic, not that you’re a rude selfish jerk who couldn’t see the bright side if it slapped him in the face.

5. Showing up late, or not at all

One of the most important rules of interview etiquette is to show up to your interview a few minutes early, or at the very least, on time. Being late shows that you have poor time management skills, and it can make interviewers think you’re just inconsiderate. Don’t be one of those people.

Make sure to double check that you’ve written down the correct day and time so you don’t completely miss your interview, or show up 30 minutes late. Give yourself plenty of time to get there, and aim to show up 10-15 minutes early. If you show up any earlier, wait in the parking lot for a few minutes before you head inside — being too early is almost as bad as being late.

6. Selling yourself short

Your interview is your chance to sell yourself to employers and show them that you’re the best person for the job. You don’t want to risk being too humble and downplaying your suitability for the job, and you can’t rely your references to bail you out.

Talk about your qualifications and how they relate to the job, and always have stories and examples to back up your claims. It’s up to you to show employers why you deserve the job, so don’t blow it.

7. Checking your phone or the clock during the interview

The interviewer is taking time out of their busy schedule to meet with you, so don’t act like an unappreciative jerk by constantly checking the time, or worse, your phone. That’s just rude.

During the interview, keep your attention on the interviewer. Turn your phone off and make sure it stays out of sight. And please, for the love of all that is holy, do not interrupt your interviewer to take a selfie.

8. Showing up unprepared

There’s no better way to tell an employer “I have no idea what I’m doing” than not being able to answer the most common interview questions, and not knowing anything about the company.

Take some time beforehand to prepare for the interview.Google the company, check out their social media profiles, and review the job listing. Take it a step further and match your qualifications to the job requirements so you can tell the interviewer exactly why you’re the perfect fit.

Make sure to read over the most common questions you can expect to hear during an interview. Prepare your answers, and have examples on hand to back up the skills and experience you claim to have.

Just do yourself a favor and do your homework, you’ll thank us later.

9. Being dishonest

A quick and easy way to make an awful impression and get your job opportunity flushed down the toilet is to lie on your resume or during the interview.

There’s no way to know how thoroughly an employer is going to check your background, so just don’t risk it. The most common lies employers run into are

  • Fluffed up skill sets
  • Education
  • Dates of employment
  • Job titles
  • Embellished responsibilities

Even if you make it through the interviewing process unscathed, you won’t be able to deliver on your first day. Then, my friend, you risk being fired. Moral of the story? Just don’t it.

10. Forgetting to follow up after the interview

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to send a follow up email to thank the interviewer. It shows that you’re considerate, thoughtful, and it gives you the opportunity to reiterate your interest in the job. Make sure to send your thank you letter within one business day of the interview to lock down the job.

Now you know how to make a horrible impression at a job interview!

Job interviews are hard enough on their own, there’s no use making it even harder on yourself by making a bad impression. First impressions can dictate the rest of the interview, and it’s pretty hard to recover if you make a bad one.

Even though it sounds scary, there’s no need to panic! With a little preparation beforehand, you’re sure to make a great impression and win over employers at your interview.

Now it’s time to study up on those interview questions, do some research on the company, pick out the perfect outfit, and land the job!

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