Job Interviewing Screw-ups

Posted: 08/18/2010 in Interviewing
Tags: , , , , , ,

While every organization’s different and there isn’t any one right way to behave in a job interview, there are some wrong ways no matter who you’re talking to. Here are some ways to horrify your job counselor:

  • Wearing an outfit better suited to a hot date than a job interview. Even if you’re interviewing in a club, it’s better to dress a bit more formally than you would once you were in the job. And of course, nix the bouncing boobs. Even if the interviewer’s really really cute.
  • Rambling on and on. Your little 30-second elevator pitch (more about that in a later post) shouldn’t last twenty minutes. The person interviewing you doesn’t want to hear about your entire work history from the time you babysat for your neighbor when you were in high school, or the details of your first diaper-changing experience. Keep it to the point, the point being your experience and skills that are relevant to their needs.
  • Sharing personal info. Even if you’ve discovered the interviewer is a fellow Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanatic, don’t assume they’re your friend. They still could care less about your imaginary childhood friend or how your divorce has made you an atheist. Keep it professional.
  • Forgetting to check your appearance before you go into the interview. You don’t want to visit the men’s room afterward and discover that you had a big fat gob of mustard on your chin the whole time.
  • Talking smack about your former employer. Even if your former supervisor could win the Suck-Ass Psycho Boss of the Year Award, it still makes you look bad. The interviewer will wonder what you’d say about HIM after you’d worked there awhile.
  • Acting all humble and insecure. We all have our insecurities, and job interviews can be stressful, but you want to show confidence. You have skills; you have a lot to offer. If your attitude is, “why in hell would you want to hire ME?” those little negative thought molecules will wriggle out of your head and worm their way across the conference table and into the interviewer’s brain, which won’t be good news for you.
  • Not preparing answers to questions you’ll likely be asked. Yes, ideally a job interview should be more like a conversation in which you’re sharing information than like a firing squad, but you’ll still be asked questions that are typical of interviews, and it would be stupid not to put some prior thought into how best to answer them. And I know you’re not stupid.
  • Not preparing questions to ask. Again, think mutual, give-and-take, information-sharing situation to see if it’s a match. Besides, you don’t want it to seem as if you don’t give a crap.
  • Not researching the company beforehand. If you know little about them, how do you know it would be a good fit? And how can you address this in the interview? Besides, you will likely be asked the actual question, “What do you know about us?” and you don’t want your answer to be, “Nothing.”
  • Being late to the interview. Unless you’re in a hostage situation and are seen on Fox News successfully negotiating with the kidnapper, you may as well hang it up right there. If something unforeseen does happen, at least call before you’re supposed to be there, apologize for keeping the employer waiting, and keep your explanation brief – don’t give an elaborate explanation of how your pet lizard died, you tried to flush him and the toilet flooded.


  1. Andrew Hall says:

    Good post. I once interviewed a person who brought their invalid father along.

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