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Top 10 Ways to Blow a Job Interview

You’d think people would always be at their best in a job interview. But, in our over 30 years of interviewing candidates, we’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. Some of the things candidates do in interviews just make our heads shake. Here, in a tongue-in-cheek way, are the top 10 ways to blow an interview:

  • Get Defensive: If asked probing questions about your work history, let the interviewer know that you don’t see those questions as relevant, and tell him/her only the facts that you personally think should be used to rule you in for the job.
  • One-Up the Interviewer: Interviewers are sometimes nervous too, so take the upper hand and interrupt, contradict to show how strong, decisive and confident you are. If you disagree with the interviewer, feel free to debate any topic, to illustrate how you stand up for what you believe.
  • Don’t Prepare – Just Wing It: You go to work meetings unprepared all the time, so use that same approach in an interview. No need to waste time researching the company, the interviewer, or the job requirements. No need to rehearse what you want to say or prepare stories that will illustrate your skills. It will all come to mind immediately when you need the info. You work well under pressure, right?
  • Don’t Dress Up: The HR person told you business casual, and it’s Friday, so wear khakis and that plaid shirt. Definitely don’t wear a suit, you might be better dressed than the interviewer. Dressing down will make them more comfortable, right?
  • Keep Talking and Give Plenty of Details: The more they know about you, the more they will like you, so embellish stories with extra details, go off on tangents, and continue stories as long as you can. If your interviewer is looking off in the distance, it just means they are thinking deeply about what you are saying.
  • Ask What’s in it for YOU: When the interviewer says “What questions do you have for me?”, ask all about working hours, benefits, promotions, and now is the time to make sure you can still take that 3 week camping trip you planned before you went on the job market. Don’t ask more about the company or the job – they should have covered that all themselves.
  • Give the Textbook Answers: All those interview books you’ve read must be correct, right? So when asked about weaknesses, by all means give the cliché answer, “I’ve been accused of being a workaholic!” Odds are your interviewer has never heard that answer before, and will find that fresh and new, and be amused.
  • Lie About Negative Information: If you were fired or laid off, attempt to say that it was “a mutual decision”, or “the company was reorganizing.” If an interviewer acts like the claims on your resume are overblown and overstated, defend your honor! What are the odds that they will check your references or verify employment?
  • Ask for Way More Money: Seek to discuss money as quickly as possible in the interview. You’ve heard that people get 15-20% increases to change jobs, so definitely ask for top dollar, even more than the expected range for the position, and much more than you are making now. After all, if they want you they will negotiate.
  • Criticize Your Last Company: Help them understand why their company is better for you by discussing all the things that were wrong with your last company and last boss. HR reps have boring jobs, so liven up their day by dishing the dirt!

Believe it or not, everything above is tongue-in-cheek, and my real advice for good interviewing is to do the exact opposite of the above. If you reverse each of the suggestions above, you won’t blow the interview, and you can have an exceptional interview. But blowing an interview does get the adrenalin pumping, so that’s your choice. 🙂