The U.S. unemployment rate is higher than it's been in 26 years making today's employment market more competitive than it's been since 1982. Competence or even excellence in your chosen field doesn't necessarily translate into interviewing know-how.

Too often job seekers unknowingly sabotage their own candidacy. This is all the more tragic because these mistakes are easily correctable.

Here are 10 common interviewing mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Arrogant Attitude
Candidate arrogance is a common complaint among interviewers. Candidates too often cross over from confidence to arrogance. There's a fine line between the two.

Confident people relate to interviewers as equals. Arrogant people are condescending giving the impression they think they're above other people (socially or otherwise).

Be especially careful about arrogance when you’re interviewing with someone younger than you or if you’re interviewing for positions that are a step or two down from your last role.

2. Unsuitable Behavior
Examples of unsuitable interviewing behavior include acting disinterested, answering your cell phone, relentless eye contact, not meeting the interviewer's gaze, talking incessantly and being too familiar.

Interviewers have certain expectations about how you should act. These expectations fall in line with the rules of common courtesy. Being polite, business like, friendly, attentive and appropriate will stand you in good stead.

3. Failure to Listen
There are few things more disconcerting to an interviewer than a candidate whose responses aren't on point. Or one who constantly asks to have questions repeated.

Stay engaged in the give and take of the conversation. Ask clarifying questions when you need to. Give answers that are on point. Lean slightly forward. Maintain appropriate eye contact. These behaviors indicate you're actively listening.

4. Inappropriate Dress
Generally speaking blue jeans and flip flops are not appropriate dress for an interview. Neither is very short skirts or low cut blouses. A three piece suit may not be appropriate either.

What's appropriate depends upon the open position. What you wear when interviewing for a banking position will differ from what's appropriate when interviewing to be a fashion designer's assistant.

5. Bashing Former Employers
If you speak ill of a former manager the interviewer will assume you would do the same to her. Bad mouthing the company, manager or your former co-workers is always self defeating. You may be tempted to confide when the interviewer feels more like a friend than a decision maker. But don’t do it!

6. Asking Poor Questions
The only thing worse than asking poor questions is asking no questions at all. Poor questions focus on what the company can do for you. They include questions about health benefits, salary or paid time off. These questions should wait until after an offer is forthcoming. (This is also in line with effective negotiating tactics.)

Good questions ask about what you can do for the company. Questions like "How do you measure success in this position?" or "How would you describe your ideal employee?" show you 'get it'.

7. Inadequate Answers
It’s surprising when candidates are unprepared to talk about themselves or their accomplishments. Interview questions seem to catch them off guard. Or they give very short answers that don't convey much information. Interviewers interpret this behavior as laziness or disinterest.

Take time to review common job interview questions and decide in advance how you will handle them. Practice telling (short) stories about your accomplishments.

8. Not Researching the Company
Too many candidates interview with companies they know nothing about. If you can't be bothered to do basic research the interviewer will infer you're not willing to go the extra mile. The bigger the company, the more unforgivable this will be.

9. Forgetting the Interview Isn't Over Until You're Out of the Building
There's nothing more heartbreaking than acing the interview only to blow it as you're leaving. This happens more than it should.

An interviewer I know likes to pull a “Columbo”. Just as candidates get to the door she casually asks, "By the way, how did you manage to get time off today?" It's surprising the number who answer, "I called in sick."

Likewise beware of casual interactions inside the company's building or restroom. Don't say or do anything that would reflect poorly on you if it were shared with the hiring manager.

10. Leaving the Interview Without Knowing What to Expect
You need to know what happens next. Having this information will help keep you from fretting about an offer and more importantly it will facilitate effective follow-up.

Questions like, “When do you anticipate making a decision?” or “When should I expect to hear from you?” are completely appropriate.

Author's Bio: 

Over her 17 years as a hiring professional Shirley Ray has interviewed thousands of job hopefuls. Starting as a corporate recruiter, then moving into professional recruiting and finally staffing agency ownership she has placed hundreds of deserving people with top companies. For more of her insider secrets go to