Common Mannerisms That Can.. Um.. Ruin an Interview

It is important to make a good impression during an interview, and that means leaving your unprofessional habits behind. From body language to verbal tics and various other speaking habits, below is a list of mannerisms that can come off as unprofessional, especially during a job interview.


Every language has its own versions of vocalized pauses, and “um” seems to be one of the most popular in the English language. These pauses are fillers that are a natural part of human speech, but including too many of these in your everyday conversation may cause you to appear unknowledgeable. If you anticipate yourself saying “um” during an interview, try pausing instead. A short pause will make you appear more confident than any language filler.


Similar to “um”, the word “like” has a tendency to be used excessively in everyday language. Although saying “like” may buy you a little more time when trying to answer that tough interview question, it may leave a bad impression if overused. Try to avoid using this word unless you are using it in the proper way – to compare a similarity or to express that you really enjoyed something.

Nervous Movements

Small movements that we have a habit of making when we are nervous are usually done unconsciously, but this type of body language can come off as unprofessional or distracting, particularly during a job interview. Some examples of this behavior include touching your hair, bouncing your leg or fidgeting with your fingers. If you know that you have a habit of any of these nervous movements, try to make a conscious effort to avoid these while interviewing. Perhaps you can style your hair up to avoid touching it, or keep your hands folded in front of you if you know that you have a habit of fidgety fingers.


Although cursing is becoming more and more acceptable in everyday conversation, it is best to leave it out of your vocabulary during a job interview. Any use of profanity may come off as offensive to the interviewer and – at the very least – can be distracting. Even if the person that is interviewing you throws out a curse word here or there, our advice would still be to practice good etiquette and avoid the use of any profanity. If you have a habit of including curse words in your everyday vocabulary, try slowing down your speech so that you don’t accidently throw in an offensive word in a rush.

While many of these habits may be difficult to break, if you become aware that you have one of the above, you should work on a solution prior to the interview. Avoiding these habits will make you appear more confident and professional to the interviewer, and will leave them with a much better impression of you.