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5 common interview mistakes and how to avoid them

Rebecca Rich our consultant managing the role
Rebecca Rich our consultant managing the role
Posted: 03/10/2022

Practice makes perfect

First impressions matter when it comes to job interviews. This is an opportunity to showcase your skills and make yourself memorable. 93% of people get nervous about interviews, and even the most confident of professionals can trip up and be remembered for the wrong reasons. 

We spoke to hiring managers in the life sciences about the biggest red flags they see during interviews and have put together a list of common mistakes and how you can avoid them to help you confidently make a positive impression. 

Appearing arrogant

Employers are looking for the right employee to fit their team culture. As much as they want to hear about your professional achievements, they may be put off by bragging or arrogance. It’s a fine line to walk, but it is critical that you confidently talk about your achievements but be cautious of how you present yourself.  

To avoid this:

Frame your big career wins in the impact on the company’s overall success. Highlight your individual responsibilities and successes, but also how this helped your colleagues and company in their goals too. Make sure you highlight yourself as a team player as well as a star performer.


Being late for an interview suggests you don’t know how to manage your time. Even worse, it can come across to the interviewer that you aren’t interested in the role or don’t respect their time. Some delays are unexpected and excusable, but always aim to arrive at your interview in a timely manner.

To avoid this:

Make sure you have pre-planned your route and checked for any potential disruptions to your journey. If you have an online interview, ensure you check your internet connection and set up your room and IT in advance.  

Bad manners

Whilst it may seem common sense, it’s important to be cautious of leaving the wrong impression on a potential employer with bad manners. Things like interrupting your interviewer, using swear words or disruptive body language can make people feel uncomfortable or label you as unprofessional.   

To avoid this:

Prepare your responses as much as you can to help you deliver your answers in a professional manner. Take a moment before you respond to collect your thoughts and ensure the interviewer has finished speaking.  

Being over-familiar

An area of manners that can be overlooked is overfamiliarity. You should avoid using slang, getting too personal or talking too colloquially  - even if the conversation is flowing well, the interviewer may question your suitability; they’re looking for a colleague, not a friend. It’s common in the niche sectors of life sciences to come across familiar faces during the interview process, but it is important to remain professional throughout the interview. 

To avoid this:

Let the hiring manager take the lead in this area, and never be more informal than them. Keep it professional and focus on what you’ve prepared for the interview to make sure you’re promoting your career experience. If you have an interview with someone you have previously worked with, be mindful of how this may impact your interview and whether you may want an alternative interviewer. You can read more on interviewing someone you know here:

Being distracted by your phone 

The sounds of buzzing or an embarrassingly loud ringtone going off - there’s nothing as distracting as phone notifications during an interview. This won't just distract you from delivering a great interview, but can also frustrate the hiring manager. Even on video interviews, it is obvious when someone is looking at their phone off-screen. 

To avoid this:

Double-check that everything is turned off or on airplane mode. Keep your phone out of reach or even in a drawer (if on video) during the interview. Also, it may help to turn off notifications on smartwatches and your computer notification pop-ups to avoid distraction. 

Failing to prepare

Though these mistakes may seem obvious to some people, it’s surprising how common they crop up in interview feedback. Being aware of these avoidable mistakes will help you give a positive impression in an interview and will increase your chances of successfully securing a second interview (and hopefully lead to a job offer). It’s equally important to take time before your interview to re-read your CV and practise your answers to ensure you deliver an excellent interview. 

Have you got an interview coming up? Check out our latest life blog on how to answer interview questions confidently.

Working with a recruiter gives you an advantage when preparing for an interview. Our experienced recruiters work closely with their candidates to give them an insight on what the hiring managers are keeping an eye out for to put them in better stead to secure an offer:

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