5 Great Ways to Fail an Interview

By Cheryl Palmer

No one goes into an interview intending to fail, especially since interviews are difficult for most people to land these days. However, job candidates will sometimes unintentionally set themselves up to fail, and will often have no idea they did so. Companies don’t typically share information with candidates about why they make the hiring decisions they do, and these decisions are often made by taking into account certain factors many job seekers don’t expect. Every single job seeker needs to make sure he or she has done everything within his or her power to convey to the interviewer that he or she is the right person for the job, and that includes considering these factors, which often go unnoticed during the interview process, and can lead to job candidates failing to land jobs they may have been otherwise perfectly qualified for.

1. Talking Down to the Receptionist

Many candidates don’t realize that the receptionist/administrative assistant holds more power than one might think. Starting off on the wrong foot with the receptionist could prematurely end your candidacy for the position. The receptionist often gives feedback to the manager of his or her impression of the different candidates. You could be making a bad impression before the interview even gets started by treating the receptionist with disrespect.

2. Show no Interest in the Interviewer

If you appear that you are only interested in what you have to say and are not focused on what the interviewer has to say, you are making a mistake. The interview needs to be give and take— you should demonstrate that you are qualified for the position and would be a good fit, but you should also listen to the interviewer and learn more about the company and the position.

3. Clearly Demonstrate That You Know More Than the Interviewer

On some occasions, after conducting mock interviews with job-seeking clients, I have been able to quickly determine why the clients were not landing new employment, even though they had been asked into numerous interviews. One client in particular had been consistently generating between two and three interviews a week, but to no avail. It turned out that he had been overdoing it during the interviews. He was so eager to show that he was qualified for the positions that he overwhelmed the interviewers with information and put them in a bad light. He came across as arrogant, and that was the real reason that he failed interview after interview—not because he was under-qualified.

4. Rest on Your Laurels

It is common for job seekers who have a wealth of experience to think that employers should be impressed by their credentials. Unfortunately, thinking this way may hinder you from explicitly pointing out to the interviewer how your background matches the positions requirements during the interview. The person conducting the interview already knows you are qualified enough for the position, or you wouldn’t have been called in for the interview. What’s on your résumé doesn’t matter—you need to show the interviewer that you are the right person for the position. After all, everyone else being interviewed is also qualified for the position.

5. Don’t Prepare Answers to Commonly Asked Interview Questions

It’s true that you can’t anticipate every question that you may be asked during an interview, but there are certain questions that are pretty standard at interviews. For example, the interviewer may ask, “How would you describe yourself?” or “What are your weaknesses?” These are questions to which you should already have answers prepared.

If you want to ace the interview, take heed to these warnings and avoid these common mistakes.


About the Author

Cheryl Palmer is a career expert, professional speaker, and the president of Call to Career. She can be reached at www.linkedin.com/in/cherylpalmer, Cheryl.Palmer@calltocareer.com, or by visiting www.calltocareer.com. Her blog is available at www.calltocareer.com/category/blog. To receive the free report, “Top 10 Mistakes that Executives Make,” visit www.calltocareer.com.

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