15 Ways to Bomb the Job Interview
Your job interview offers a big chance to nab the career of your dreams or, at the very least, make decent money doing something worthwhile.
You will have many throughout your life in all probability. Some will go great. Others, not so much.
To help you have more of the former and less of the latter, we’ve put together this list of 15 ways you could bomb your job interview. Avoid doing so at all costs. Let’s get started!
1. Failing to do research on the company you’re interviewing for.
There is nothing quite so disqualifying when walking into a job interview as doing little to no research on what the company actually does.
With the Internet offering info on everything under the sun, there is no excuse for flunking your due diligence.
To adequately prep, start by reading over the company’s website. Do a news search for the company’s name on Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
Research all the major company players — “Staff” or “Our Team” links are great places to go on the employer’s website.
If you have access to the job announcement complete with qualifications and requirements, read over that and make note of important keywords.
Then, head back to Google or [insert search engine of choice here] and research the industry itself.
Write down questions as you’re looking into the company and the industry. These are likely to come in handy later.
2. Not doing a test run of the job interview location.
A recurring nightmare of yours truly while coming up through the job ranks was not being able to find the job interview location and blowing my chance before ever actually getting it.
The fear was founded not so much in the phobia of looking like an idiot, but in the idea that I could have had something great, but never gave myself a fighting chance.
For this reason, I always did a test run to the job interview location on the day or evening before the big day. This ensured I would know when to leave to get there on time (and by “on time,” I mean 15 minutes earlier than the scheduled appointment).
Having a sense of clarity and confidence with finding the location will allow you to focus more on job interview performance as well.
3. Giving canned answers.
It’s the 21st Century. We’re all wise to the “my greatest weakness is that I’m too competitive and passionate” approach.
That may have fooled people in the 1980s, but employers today want someone who is genuine. Someone who recognizes what their true faults are and knows how to plan around or work through them.
4. Failing to connect past experience to current job demands.
Let’s face it. If you’re a fry cook and you want a job as an accountant, you’re going to have a hard time showing how the two jobs correlate in a meaningful way. If you can, more power to you; but you’ll be better served sowing clear, connected experience.
In the accountant example, you will, of course, have school, test scores, and licenses to fall back on. Use those first before you start trying to connect crazy dots.
5. ‘Flunking’ the nonverbal portion of the job interview.
It’s hard to say what percentage of communication is nonverbal. We’ve heard that it’s north of 90 percent, which may or may not be true.
It’s so subjective and arbitrary, who really knows? The point is, it’s important. And often just as important as the words coming out of your mouth.
Have confidence in your mannerisms and the way you present yourself. You want to project the appearance of someone who is assured and decisive.
6. Not asking the interviewer(s) questions of your own.
You might think you’re insulting an employer by putting them on the hot seat, but that is not in the least how they take it.
When you have questions of your own, you’re showing you’ve researched them, researched the industry, and have genuine interest in both.
A “good question” in this setting can be somewhat subjective, and a great question isn’t necessarily going to lock down the job for you; but it will take you further than if you ask nothing at all. Therefore, consider it an essential part of your job interview skills.
7. Bashing past employers.
When you bash a past employer in a job interview — even if it is objectively justifiable — you are not building yourself up.
You are instead putting it in the employer’s brain that “this guy/girl is divisive, what will they say about us if they leave here one day?”
Even though you may feel an employer has wronged you, always find a way to take the high road and focus on the positive benefits you were able to derive from working there.
8. Trying to be someone you’re not.
Remember that most employers can see through BS from a mile away. Don’t try to “book report” your way through a job interview if you don’t have a certain skill set.
Be honest about what you’re good at and where you still have challenges. Acknowledging your weak spots and showing an eagerness to grow as an employee will take you much further than smokescreens.
9. Inappropriate dress.
It may suck in your eyes that an employer would dismiss you because of your facial piercings or visible tattoos, but that’s pretty common for the business sector.
You have to learn how to exist in it, and no, dismissing a job and stating, “Well that’s not the type of place I’d want to work anyway” is not a viable strategy.
Employers pay half your employer tax. They save you a ton of money with employer-sponsored health insurance plans. They give you a means of providing for your family or buying stuff that interests you. Many are worth the sacrifice, and the ones that aren’t are terrible for other reasons than simply not wanting you to look like a Hellraiser character while on their dime.
Realize there is a time and a place to use dress and piercings and markings for self expression. The job interview — and likely the job itself, with some exceptions — is not it.
10. Dictating terms.
A super-fast way of blowing your job interview is to dictate terms of what you will and will not do if hired by the employer.
Oh sure, you may not be willing once you find out the full demands of the job, but don’t expect to tell the employer that while holding out interest they’re going to want you as their final pick.
Jobs have responsibilities. If you can’t or won’t meet those responsibilities, then you must be prepared for the employer to pass you by.
11. Revealing your goals are not aligned with the company’s.
An individual’s goals are almost never aligned with their employer’s, and that may be why so many Americans are disengaged with work or in unsatisfying professions.
While I’m not going to preach that you should never take a job with which you don’t align professionally — after all, sometimes you just need the paycheck — I will tell you that revealing this in a job interview is a sure way to get passed over.
If you get the job, try to understand what the employer wants from you and focus on achieving it — at least until you can find something that is better suited.
But as for the job interview, make sure they’re hearing about the value you want to deliver; not all the ways you’re a bad fit for the position.
12. Your social media accounts.
Yes, the job interview is not the only place you can screw up your chances. Many times your social media accounts can disqualify you before, during, and afterward.
It’s really easy to run a search on an employee and to submit a friend request if privacy restrictions are too locked down.
If you do get a friend request from an employer, you’re going to want to accept it — and if you do accept it, you’ll want to make sure the stupid pics and selfies you’ve snapped over the years in various states of impairment are not present.
You’ll also want to dispense of overtly partisan political ramblings, foul language, and other off-color remarks that could get you immediately disqualified from consideration.
Too many applicants fail to maintenance their social media presence ahead of time, and they pay an awful price.
13. Emphasizing money more than a desire to do the job.
Don’t focus so much on salary. Focus instead on experience. If the employer wants to go there, let them bring it up.
If the employer presses you for a salary expectation, try not to show your hand. Often the first party to say a number is the one who loses.
I would advise you to have a number range in mind that factors in the ideal financial life you want (within reason, of course) and the lowest possible number you’d be willing to take (your break-even or whatever you’re just on the verge of being uncomfortable with).
Make sure the numbers are compatible with the job title, the industry, and the market. Use a site like Glassdoor to conduct your own advanced research.
If an employer does force your hand on stating the first number, giving them the high end of your range will give you a fighting chance of scoring a salary package you can live with.
14. Following up too much.
After the job interview, things can go right or wrong, too. If you’re the type that constantly harasses an employer post-interview, they’re likely to remove you from consideration in a hurry.
How much is too much?
The answer to that may vary on what the point of contact tells you. If you call a few days afterward to thank them for meeting with you and to follow up, they may tell you they’ll know something by the end of the week.
Calling them every day between that reveal and the end of the week might be seen as too overeager, too desperate, and unwilling to take instruction.
Bottom line: give it a few days before your first follow up. Then, listen to what they tell you and adjust accordingly.
15. Not following up at all.
While no employer wants to be harassed by a candidate, they are more likely to remember someone who follows good follow up protocols than someone who completely falls off the radar.
Depending on the position, you could be competing with 100 or more candidates. That’s a lot of competition, so having more “touch points” with the employer will take you further than having none at all after the job interview.
Your job interview is not necessarily make-or-break. In fact, this recent piece from Fast Company will show you how you can still get a job even if you bomb the interview.
But screwing up this opportunity will definitely place you behind the 8-ball, so do what you can to get it right by avoiding the mistakes above. Good luck!
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]