Landing a job interview can be exciting and terrifying. It's a major step to have your resume selected from all those submitted, but actually getting the job often requires a good performance in the interview.

Even for people who are comfortable talking about themselves, interviews can be daunting. In many cases, it's a bit confrontational, with you being grilled and put on the spot. Even in friendlier interviews, the situation can be uncomfortable, and it's easy to make mistakes.

Reading an article can't make you a better interviewee -- that takes practice. It can, however, help you avoid making four major mistakes that can sink your candidacy.

A man and a woman in business attire sit across from a woman.

Being prepared will make your interview easier. Image source: Getty Images.

1. Don't be late

If you have any questions as to how to get to the location of your interview, make a test trip the day before. Remember to leave plenty of time for traffic and other unexpected delays.

Ideally, you should plan on arriving at a location near your interview site at least an hour beforehand. It's much better to have to kill some time in your car or waiting in a coffee shop than it is to show up late.

2. Dress to impress

Unless you are specifically told otherwise men should dress for an interview in a suit and women should wear the equivalent. Even if you are told to not dress up, wear professional attire that makes it clear you are taking things seriously.

3. Bring your materials

Never assume the person or people interviewing you will have printed copies of your resume. Make sure you have a few with you along with any other materials that were part of the application process.

If you are in a field where having work samples or a portfolio with you is appropriate, bring those too. In addition, have multiple sets of reference contact info ready to hand out if requested.

4. Do your homework

Don't go to an interview assuming you will only be talking about your background. You should be prepared to ask and answer specific questions about the company where you are interviewing. Be ready to answer why you want the job with as much specificity as possible.

If you can explain why you want to work for the company interviewing you instead of others, that will help. Alternatively, if you can only speak in generic terms, "It pays more money," or, "It's the next logical step on my career track," then it will be clear you did not prepare.

Take it seriously

Prepare for every interview as if you really want the job even if you don't. Sometimes a backup choice might turn into the position you really want after you meet some people and hear more about it. Before you get to the interview, do everything you can to be ready.

That should include studying the company, brushing up on how you answer certain questions, and having clear answers for how you would approach every task mentioned in the job ad. You may never have to use many of the answers you prepare, but your interviewer will almost certainly notice the work you put in.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.