• PTP Chicago

5 Interview Faux Pas Candidates Should Avoid at All Costs

Landing a new job involves multiples steps, starting from penning a powerful resume, applying for the desired role across multiple organizations, getting shortlisted, and finally attending the interview, which again could branch out to three or four rounds. Though each of these phases is prominent, everything boils down to how the candidate performs during the interview. While prepping, applicants mostly focus on delving deep into their areas of expertise and doing research on the potential employer, often overlooking soft skills and etiquette.

Here are five such interview mistakes that could cost an aspirant their dream job.

Topics Covered

  • Talking poorly about a former employer

  • Arriving way too early

  • Keeping your phone out

  • Bringing up money too early

  • Not answering the actual question

1. Talking poorly about a former employer

81% of recruiters will not hire an applicant who badmouths their current or past employer. It is simple—if today, they are smearing an organization or ex-boss, tomorrow, they could do the same to a potential recruiter. Even if a candidate is asked to describe how they handled a negative situation in the old workplace, they should not entirely focus on the concern—touch upon it briefly and then move on to the positive outcome they helped create.

2. Arriving way too early

The next interview mistake has to do with timing. It is the law that being late for an interview is an absolute no-no. But what about arriving early? How could that hurt? Turning up way before the scheduled time might be interpreted as desperation or insensitivity. It conveys that the applicant is inconsiderate of the recruiter’s plans for the day; thus, labeling them as ‘too eager’ or ‘callous’. Just keep a buffer of 15 minutes—no more, no less.

3. Keeping your phone out

There is nothing more unprofessional than holding on to one’s phone while talking to the employer—90% of recruiters admit that they would not hire a candidate who keeps fumbling with their phone. Always remember to put the phone away before stepping into the meeting room. Keep it in the pocket or a bag, and double-check to confirm that it is in the Airplane mode, (not just on vibrate). During the interview, the applicant’s focus should be solely on the interviewer.

Want to know how to crack the interview in 2021 and beyond? Check out these 10 tips!

4. Bringing up money too early into the conversation

Employers are on the lookout for aspirants who are passionate about the job, company, or technology involved. Money is a huge factor, everyone knows that. But that does not mean it should be discussed as soon as the candidate walks in. Ideally, salaries and benefits should not come up until the third or fourth round. Be patient, wait until the employer brings it up. Try not to raise too many queries—redirect to the designated personnel or request for the compensation sheet that lists down all the details.

5. Not answering the actual question

Evading a question with vague answers is a grave interview mistake. Not only does it confirm that the candidate is underprepared, but also puts their qualifications and experience under the microscope. Listen to the question, clarify doubts if any, take a second or two to frame an acceptable answer—there is no need to start rambling the moment a question is asked. Also, do not try guessing it. It is okay to not know all the answers—just be frank and admit it. Honesty is always appreciated by recruiters.


While there is no secret formula for success, avoiding these interview mistakes can significantly increase a candidate’s chances of getting a call-back. Just be confident, follow the rules of etiquette, and keep a clear head. Remember, employers are not looking for perfect candidates, they want somebody relatable; who can see the big picture and would grow alongside the company.

And that is who every aspirant should aim to be.

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About the Company:

Peterson Technology Partners (PTP) has been Chicago's premier Information Technology (IT) staffing, consulting, and recruiting firm for over 22+ years. Named after Chicago's historic Peterson Avenue, PTP has built its reputation by developing lasting relationships, leading digital transformation, and inspiring technical innovation throughout Chicagoland.

Based in Park Ridge, IL, PTP's 250+ employees have a narrow focus on a single market (Chicago) and expertise in 4 innovative technical areas;

  • Cybersecurity

  • Artificial Intelligence

  • Data Science

  • Cloud & DevOps

PTP exists to ensure that all of our partners (clients and candidates alike) make the best hiring and career decisions.

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