When preparing for an interview, there’s plenty of advice you may come across telling you what you ought to do in order to nail every question. However, when it comes to what not to do, there’s a dearth of information.

Not many people are willing to say it so straightforwardly, but there are definitely some things you can do which will send your chances of getting hired plummeting – and here are the main ones…


Patchy work history


If you know there are inconsistencies in your work history, you need to be prepared to explain them. It could be that you were unwell, or were made redundant, or simply wanted to take some time to yourself for a while. All of these reasons are perfectly valid; you just need to reassure the interviewer that your past absence(s) will not impinge on your ability to perform in your new role.

Whatever you do, though, do not try to lie and cover them up. A lot of people take time out of work for various reasons: it’s better to be up-front about them than botch the dates of a previous placement and have your potential new employer find out about it further down the line.


Lack of passion


We get it: not everybody is naturally enthusiastic. You might be someone who is a little more introverted, or somebody who gets nervous under interview conditions. And that’s alright! What’s not alright, however, is allowing those traits to be misread as a lack of passion.

When you go into an interview, you need to show your potential employer that you are enthusiastic about winning the role. What’s more, you ought to demonstrate passion for your previous jobs, too – even if you had negative reasons for leaving.

And if you’re genuinely not passionate, perhaps you should question your reasons for going for the job in the first place.


Complaints about previous jobs


As we just alluded to above, you may very well have had bad experiences in former workplaces. However, it is unwise to bring these up in an interview. Even if it isn’t true, it may come across that you were the problem in your previous role(s), and therefore it would not be a wise decision to hire you.

Of course, this does not mean that you can’t say anything negative about past jobs – you just need to ensure you phrase it correctly. For example, instead of saying, ‘The job was boring,’ say, ‘It didn’t challenge me enough’. Always try and turn it into a positive and, where possible, point out how this new role would fulfil something that your past jobs were lacking.


Playing Victim


To build on this last point, you must at all costs avoid focusing on your complaints and problems in the hope that it will somehow get you hired out of pity. This will not happen.

Employers do not want to take on someone who is looking for a new role out of necessity or desperation, they want someone who wants the job.

If you have had bad experiences in the past, demonstrate that you are able to take them in your stride and turn them into better, more fruitful opportunities. That way, you show that not only are you able to deal with adversity – you are a stronger person because of it.


Not following the dress code

This will be one of the biggest red flags for employers, and yet it’s one of the easiest to avoid. If a dress code is stipulated in your conversation with a recruiter/staff member before your interview, make sure you stick to it! If nothing specific is mentioned, assume that you should go in formalwear.

Not having the right clothing suggests that you do not care enough about the position to put the effort in – and it’s the first impression you’ll make as you step into the room.


Not asking questions


This ties in with showing passion for the role. In order to prove that you care about this position, you need to show that you want to know more about it. Just sitting there passively will obviously not achieve this; you need to be the one to keep the conversation going by asking questions and demonstrating that you’re keen to find out more.

Again, if you find that you become quite anxious in interviews, you need to take that factor into consideration when preparing. Have some questions in mind ready for the opportunity so that you don’t have to panic and come up with any on the spot. There are plenty of examples out there if you can’t come up with some yourself.


Not having references


Going to a job interview without references is like trying to board a flight with no passport. If you can’t prove who you say you are and what you’ve done, you’re not going to get very far. Gather any references you can – from past colleagues, friends, maybe even university professors if you’ve recently graduated. The more authoritative the better, of course.

Ultimately, in order to pass the interview stage, you need to be yourself and demonstrate your ability to do the job well. As well as that, though, you need to play by the rules. Don’t risk an excellent opportunity by wearing the wrong shoes or making petty complaints about a former coworker; follow this advice and you’ll be well on your way to success.