No matter how many job interviews you may have been to, sitting in front of a potential employer and answering the question “why should we hire you?” can still be pretty nerve-racking.

Being well-prepared is by far the best way to ease the pre-interview jitters and show the interviewer your best side. It’ll also help you avoid mistakes like the ones on CareerBuilder’s list of unbelievable interview blunders, which includes everything from:

  • oddities like asking for a ride home

  • unforgivable behaviour like taking private phone calls in the middle of the interview

Along with these rather outlandish examples, hiring managers also shared some of the most common mistakes they see during job interviews. More than half of hiring managers said that the worst mistake a candidate could make was:

Dressed inappropriately
Speaking negatively about a pervious employer
Disiniterested and arrogant
Not providing specific answers
Not asking well thought out questions
  • First impressions matter

    First Impressions Matter

    People make up their mind about you within the first few seconds of meeting you, so it’s important to take the time to present yourself well.

    In theory, your outward appearance shouldn’t matter if you have the right skills for the job, but the reality is a bit different.

    You don’t have to spend hours getting ready, of course, but make sure that your nails are clean, your breath is fresh, your hair is neat, and your clothes are freshly ironed and stain-free.

    Kandi Mensing, owner and founder of, notes that while you should never be too late for an interview, arriving too early isn’t necessarily a good thing either.

    “Leave in plenty of time that even if you hit traffic or an accident you wouldn't be late. You'll inevitably arrive a bit early, but use that time to get in the right mindset for the interview,” says Mensing.

    “However, arriving more than 10 minutes early is not a good thing,” she adds. “It may annoy the interviewer or recruiter because they likely have other interviews they are conducting, or meetings.”

    During the introduction, make eye contact, smile, and maintain good posture.

    “When the interviewer enters the room, stand up and give a firm, but not tough, handshake,” suggests Mensing. “Also wait to sit until you've been asked to be seated, or ask ‘may I sit’?”

  • Know the company

    People make up their mind about you within the first few seconds of meeting you, so it’s important to take the time to present yourself well.

    Spend some time on the company website and do a little digging on social media a few days before the interview. This will allow you to speak knowledgeably about your goals for the potential position and ask strong questions that demonstrate your interest.

    “Learn about the company’s mission, vision, values, and history,” Mensing says. “Prepare to use that knowledge to position yourself as a good fit in the interview, and to showcase that you did your homework.”

  • Prepare some basic answers

    You can’t possibly prepare for everything an employer might ask you, but you should at least think about some of the most basic questions.

    These could include “Why do you want to work for us?”, “What makes you a good candidate for this job,” “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”, “Why did you leave your last job?” or “Tell me a bit about yourself.”

    “Be prepared to explain why you're a good fit for that position, what you know and what you'll need to be trained on,” says Mensing.

    No two interviews are alike, so you also need to be able to go with the flow and change your delivery if necessary. Don’t try to memorise answers or pre-prepared speeches, as this will just come across as stiff and awkward.

  • Plan for the unexpected

    Most employers like to throw in a few odd or even argumentative questions or statements just to see how you think on the spot, how you handle yourself in unexpected situations, and how you use your creativity.

    Don’t feel pressured to answer immediately – take a moment to think about the question and if necessary ask the interviewer to repeat it for you or clarify what they mean.

    Always remain professional and try not to get frustrated or defensive, and never say you “don’t know.” Often in these cases, the answer itself is less important than how you answer.

  • Plan questions in advance

    At the close of an interview, you will usually be given a chance to ask a few of your own questions. You should always take this opportunity as it shows that you’re paying attention and are interested in the company.

    Questions might occur to you throughout the interview, but you should also prepare a few in advance. Ask questions that are relevant to the role you are applying for, but avoid asking the interviewer directly about salary or hours, as it this could make it seem like you’re only interested in clocking in and out.

  • Don’t ‘overshare’

    Be careful about what information you share during your interview. Even if some questions seem to be asking you to show more of your personality and interests (like “what are your interests outside of work?”) you should try to mention hobbies or activities that are relevant to the job or those that at least demonstrate your creativity or self-discipline.

    Telling an employer that you enjoy “partying” or that you don’t have time for hobbies because you’re a single mother could leave them questioning whether you would be reliable if given the job.

  • Bring everything you will need

    If you are asked to bring anything specific along with you to the interview, don’t forget or you will appear careless.

    Other things you should always bring are a notepad and pen for taking notes, a few hard copies of your resume, and your portfolio if you have one.

    Mensing advises not bringing too much along, however. “You don't need to be lugging around a bunch of stuff. Just bring in your meeting binder, portfolio, calendar, and a pen and paper to take notes,” she says.

    “Don't bring your cell phone inside the building at all; leave it in your car,” she adds. “There's nothing more annoying than interviewing someone while there is an incessant buzzing in the room.”

    Be sure to have your references on hand too, as an employer may ask for them if your interview goes well. Don’t forget to let referees know that they may be contacted. This is not only courteous, but also gives them a chance to think about what they might say.