How to fail an interview in 10 easy (but avoidable) steps

The internet is full of useful blogs and advice on how to achieve interview success. In researching for this blog, I found at least twelve articles all basically giving the same advice on how to have that perfect interview.

The reality is there is no such thing as the perfect interview. So, I want to grasp the nettle and talk about the 10 sure fire things you can do to fail an interview and how to maximise your chances of avoiding them.

Here we go…

  1. Being Late 

It’s a personal bug bear of mine and immediately says to your prospective employer that you are disorganised, sloppy and disrespectful. The key is to manage your time to ensure that you arrive at least 10 minutes early. That way, you can sign in at reception and take a few moments to gather your thoughts before the fun starts. Check your route (including bus/train times) and make sure traffic isn’t going to be an issue. If driving, think about where you are going to park. So basic, but so many times people forget (or don’t plan) to leave on time.

  1. Turn your phone off

The easiest mistake to make is to leave it on and it makes a noise and you have to fumble around nervously to turn it off. A candidate who sticks in my mind even took a call about their PPI claim in their interview (seriously!). Its impolite and it takes seconds to switch it off or turn to silent and forget about it

  1. Not dressing for an interview

I know that so many workplaces these days have dress down policies so this question comes up all the time. What do I wear? I feel that you can’t get marked down at an interview for wearing a smart business suit (and tie for the chaps). From experience, you can get marked down for jeans and flip flops. Just on ties, plain and not the comedy Christmas one you received for “Secret Santa” last year.

  1. Bad mouthing your current employer

Avoid spending a large part of your interview complaining bitterly about everything that is happening in your current company and your “boss from hell”. Always try to be positive and look for the great things about your current role and focus on career progression and greater challenges in the new role rather than complaining.

  1. Saying too much (or too little)

Answering interview questions is like walking a tightrope. Say too much and you could be putting the interviewer to sleep. Don’t say enough and you might not give the full answer you need to give. Nerves can often get the better of us and one of the ways we show this is by either talking at a million miles an hour or just answering yes or no to every question posed. You want to listen to what you are being asked, be succinct but make sure you answer the question. Think about examples you can use before the interview and have a look at the STAR technique (it’s a classic framework for answering interview questions).

  1. Watch your language

Don’t swear… simple as that. It’s easy to fall into informality, especially if you feel you have built a great rapport with the interviewer and start discussing the performance of your favorite football team. No excuse. Stay professional throughout.

  1. Keep it professional

When you really get on with an interviewer, it’s easy to forget that you are at a job interview. Don’t fall into the trap of being too “pally” and telling them about what you did last weekend. They don’t need (or want) to know. It can be a real turn off. Remember to remain professional at all times and don't over step the line.

  1. Keep it truthful

Don’t lie on your CV or in the interview. You will get caught out and if that happens to be in the interview, then it will be extremely awkward for everyone. Social Media and Google means that an interviewer will be able to do their homework on you before you come to the interview.

  1. Don’t forget your body language!

Body language, as a whole, is often ignored but there is a fine line between exuding confidence and out right arrogance. We all do it but try not to fiddle, pick your fingers (or worse). Practice your hand shake and how you sit. Watch world leaders and celebrities, they know how to manage their body language.

  1. Not doing your homework

When a candidate hasn’t passed an interview the company feedback will always include a sentence like “didn’t research our business and had no idea what we do”. With so much easy to access information, it really isn’t acceptable. Learning about the company is one thing, but take it further and learn about their values – how do they fit in with your values. Can you think of an example where you have done something that fits in with those values? It shows that you have really given the company some thought and the cultural fit is there.

What has been your experience of interviews? Perhaps you have some knowledge that you can share here to help others. Perhaps you have great tips that really work for you… tell us about it.

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