Seven Common Interview Mistakes

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

It was mid-morning and Cynthia was preparing for her job interview that was scheduled for later in the week.  The sound of The Today Show was softly playing in the background when something caught her ear.  The hosts were discussing the outcome of a recent study of mistakes people make during their job interview.  This news article stopped Cynthia in her tracks.  She replayed the segment and found that the most common mistakes people make during their interview include:

  1. Dressing Inappropriately – During an interview you need to dress appropriate for the job.  For most jobs, you will want to dress in a professional manner.  Don’t wear jeans or a cocktail dress, instead wear a suit and tie, or a professional dress or pants suit.
  2. Being late for the interview – If you’re late for the interview just know that you probably won’t get the job.  Know where you’re going ahead of time.  If you’re unfamiliar with the area, drive by the interview site prior to the interview.  If you’re interviewing in a large hotel or building, walk by the room prior to your scheduled interview.  Plan on arriving to the interview site an hour early.  With this philosophy, if you get lost or traffic is crazy, you will still be on time.
  3. Leaving your cell phone on – As crazy as this sounds, many people will leave their cell phone turned on during an interview.  In fact, there are many stories of people answering their phone or returning a text message during an interview.  It’s best if you leave your phone in your car during the interview.
  4. Being too focused on yourself – Remember that during the interview process the employer is looking for an applicant who will be a good fit for the organization and who can help the organization solve their problems.  If you are too focused on “what’s in it for me” or too desperate to get the job, you probably aren’t the right fit and probably won’t get the job.
  5. Not being prepared for the interview – When preparing for a job you need to focus on two areas of preparation – researching the company and knowing how you’re going to answer the interview questions.  You will need to know the basics of the company, the job, and the people you’re interviewing with.  You will also need to be able to answer the basic interview questions about your qualifications.
  6. Bad mouthing your previous employer – Never bad mouth your previous employer, or anyone for that matter.  Only negative people will hire other negative people.  If you want to work for a good company, be positive and optimistic.  If you were fired from a previous job, it’s natural to feel anger and hurt.  Redirect any negative thoughts and resist the temptation to make negative comments.  Rise above these temptations and ace your interview.
  7. Not making eye contact – Making eye contact shows the employer that you’re confident and competent.  A lack of eye contact shows insecurities and makes you look like you have something to hide.  Don’t get in a staring contest, but having the appropriate amount of eye contact is important.  Making eye contact with people is something that you can practice and improve upon.

As Cynthia’s interview approached, she made sure that she was properly prepared, that she was dressed appropriately, and she knew where the interview site was.  When she arrived at the interview, she left her cell phone in the car!

Ultimately the job will go to the candidate who knows the intricacies of the job search process, is prepared for the interview, and who effectively executes the basics of the job search process.  In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!


Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University. He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach. He is also an author of 9 books. Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at or his new book Execute for Success at


#1 Sports Job Book

2nd edition Image


In Getting Hired In College Sports you will discover:

  • The types of jobs that exist in college sports
  • How to plan and navigate your career
  • How to create an effective job search campaign 
  • The proper way to create an effective resume, cover letter, and sales pitch
  • How to properly brand yourself
  • Techniques and strategies to prepare for your interview
  • How to properly prepare yourself for the five types of interview questions 
  • How to properly follow-up after the interview in order to influence the decision of the hiring manager

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“This book is fantastic – it is very practical for people who want to get into (or advance) in the sports industry.”

 -Greg McDermott
Head Men’s Basketball Coach
Creighton University




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