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Underprepared Brits brag their way out of job prospects

Study by LifeSkills created by Barclays reveals the most common interview blunders that may come between you and your dream job

New research reveals the top ten most common interview faux pas, which include showing off, not asking questions, dressing inappropriately and moaning about a current employer.

  • The age old saying ‘fail to prepare then prepare to fail’ rings true, with 51 per cent of employers citing that lack of research is the biggest blunder candidates make
  • 64 per cent of unemployed young people say they would benefit from job interview training
  • LifeSkills offers advice and guidance to help people succeed in interviews by addressing the pressure points where interviewees often fall short

As the country braces itself for the gruelling interview episode of The Apprentice, new research from LifeSkills created by Barclays reveals that when it comes to being in the hot seat in real life, many Brits rely on their charm instead of research, and it could cost them their dream job.

The survey of 500 interviewers reveals the top ten most common interview mistakes, highlighting that UK candidates are often underprepared and may be overcompensating in other areas to impress. The most common errors are failure to do research prior to the job interview (51 per cent), showing off (31 per cent), not acting interested or engaging with the interviewer (30 per cent), and asking no questions at all (30 per cent). 

Top 10 Most Common Interview Mistakes:

  1. Failing to do their research
  2. Showing off
  3. Asking no questions
  4. Not acting interested or engaged with the interviewer
  5. Making up answers
  6. Lying about achievements
  7. Not dressing appropriately
  8. Rambling on
  9. Failing to explain what they will bring to the role
  10. Moaning about their current employer

When it comes to the mistakes most likely to cost a candidate their dream career, 12 per cent of employers said they found forgetting your manners to be the most off-putting behaviour. Meanwhile, candidates who acted interested and engaged during interviews were deemed to be the best (48 per cent), whilst those who appeared genuine about themselves were favoured more highly (37 per cent).

In the head-to-head group interview scenario, dominating the conversation and not listening to others ranked among the top errors, coming in at 44 and 48 per cent respectively. Being too quiet or not contributing enough was also prevalent with 45 per cent of employers often witnessing this in group interviews. In contrast, in the typical one-on-one interview setting only a small number (6 per cent) said that being too modest would dampen a prospective candidate’s chances.

Research from LifeSkills highlights that a quarter (25 per cent) of unemployed young people feel that they perform badly in interviews, and almost two-thirds (64 per cent) think that they would benefit from job interview training.

Solomon Akhtar, the youngest ever contestant on The Apprentice, who had a particularly gruelling interview on last year’s show, said: “I learnt the hard way in my Apprentice interview that it’s so important to be prepared in order to succeed. It was clear that I hadn’t put enough thought into my business plan and wrongly believed that my confidence and charm would win Claude over. Even though it didn’t go to plan, I am really grateful for the experience; I learnt a lot from it and will definitely never turn up under prepared for an interview again.”

Kirstie Mackey, Head of LifeSkills, created by Barclays, added: “No matter how old or experienced you are, it’s invaluable to know how to properly prepare for and behave in interviews. As the research reflects, over half of employers (51 per cent) say that failure to prepare is the most common mistake candidates make. At LifeSkills, we understand that interview techniques don’t come naturally to everyone, which is why we offer a range of tips and advice to help young people know what to expect in interviews, and to be as prepared as possible.”

LifeSkills provides a range of tips to help people succeed in interviews by addressing pressure points where interviewees often fall short. Content includes advice on what to wear, how to research a business, ask questions to impress employers, and even how to utilise hobbies and interests to make yourself more appealing to an employer. Users can participate in a mock interview online, allowing them to bring together everything they have learnt and discover the top tips that will help them get that job. 

By registering at, young people can sharpen their interview skills by carrying out a mock interview as well as accessing a bank of tips and advice to help gain the skills needed to enter the world of work.

Notes to editors

  1. Younger generation defined as adults aged 18-23 years old
  2. A nationally representative survey carried out by One Poll amongst 500 UK interviewers

About LifeSkills, created with Barclays

LifeSkills created with Barclays aims to ensure no young person is left behind by equipping them with the key skills needed in the future, boosting our economy and supporting our society. 

LifeSkills brings together educators, businesses, young people and parents to achieve this, as increasingly young people need to leave education not only with appropriate academic results but with the skills that we know businesses need now and in the future as technology reshapes our working world. LifeSkills provides educators with more than 50 hours of free curriculum linked employability resources, through videos, quick fire activities, interactive tools and full lesson plans to teach young people, as well as dozens of interactive tools for young people to learn in their own time or in conjunction with their parents through our dedicated parents section.  LifeSkills also helps to improve access to work experience opportunities, traineeships and apprenticeships to give them the key skills and experience through businesses across the UK. 

For further information about LifeSkills visit @YourLifeSkills

About Barclays

Barclays is an international financial services provider engaged in personal, corporate and investment banking, credit cards and wealth management with an extensive presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. Barclays’ purpose is to help people achieve their ambitions – in the right way.

With 325 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs over 130,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for customers and clients worldwide.

For further information about Barclays, please visit our website .