9 Ways to Ruin a Job Interview

9 Ways to Ruin a Job InterviewToward the end of last year, U.S. News & World Report published an article by Rebecca Koenig entitled Job Interview Mistakes to Avoid. Ms. Koenig highlighted 25 job interview mistakes, and I was inspired to share some of them.

Amongst the many blatant interview faux pas, you will find answering your cell phone during the interview, wearing overly casual clothing, and flirting with your interviewer. But it’s not just these obvious gaffes that will create problems for you with your potential next employer.

Here are 9 of my favorite ways to ruin a job interview:

1. Be negative about anything or badmouth an old boss.

Never say you didn’t like the kind of work you were doing at your prior job. If you didn’t like something before, the interviewer will assume you probably won’t like the work at the next job either. If you’re asked specifically to name something you didn’t like, find something minor and emphasize what you learned and what you did like.

As a side note, also do not act rude or say anything negative to the receptionist. How you treat everyone in the office is part of your interview and will be judged!

2. Be late.

When it comes to job interviews, being on time is being late. I don’t care whether your car broke down or your subway stalled or your printer cut off part of the address of the firm. Plan to get to the interview an hour early and none of these events will make you late. And always have the employer’s phone number somewhere where you can’t possibly lose it so if anything does happen (despite your plan to get there an hour early) you can call as soon as you know there is a problem.

3. Question whether you want the job.

The interview is not the place to have doubts! Fake it till you make it. After you get a job offer, worry about whether you want the job. If you express doubts even subtly during the interview, you can be sure you won’t get the offer.

4. Apologize for any aspects of yourself or your life.

Doubting yourself or any hints of low self-esteem will not help you in your interview. You are who you are and you’ve made the choices you’ve made. Be proud or at least accepting, state the facts as the facts and never apologize!

5. Fail to answer the questions.

Too often, job candidates will follow the interviewer’s question with a stream of consciousness answer that does not answer the question that was asked. You might do this out of nervousness. So after each question, take a deep breath, repeat the question to yourself, and make sure you answer it – clearly and concisely.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the question to make points you want to make. If you can find a way to slip in a story that highlights your accomplishments, go ahead! Just make sure you’re addressing the topic the interviewer wants you to address.

6. Ask salary information.

This is a big no-no! You will get your salary information after you get the offer! However, do be prepared with a strategy in case your interviewer brings up the topic.

7. Come unprepared.

You absolutely must do your research before every job interview! If you don’t look at the company’s website, know the company’s brand and values, and use Google to find out about any newsworthy events, you are not prepared. If you don’t do this research, the interviewer will wonder whether you’ll do your research on the job.

A sure sign that you haven’t done your research is asking a question you could have known the answer to by reading a company website. So don’t mess this up!

In addition to researching the company, research your interviewer. Know their LinkedIn profile top to bottom – where they’ve worked, what their interests are, and who your common connections are. Come prepared with questions and conversation topics!

8. Use casual/chatty language or get too personal.

We all want to be friendly, but don’t get too buddy-buddy with your interviewer. You are interviewing as a professional and your demeanor will be judged. Exhibit the demeanor in an interview that you would exhibit in the office.

9. Lie.

I’d rather you make any of the other 7 mistakes listed in this article than mess up on this one. Even if you’re hired, when your lies are discovered you will be fired.

What are your favorite interview stories? Please share your successes and bloopers below!

A great resume and LinkedIn profile are key to landing any job interview. If you need writing help, check out our resume and LinkedIn profile writing services and then contact us with your questions.


  1. Why do you say to NOT ask for salary information, when it is one of the first questions I am asked, every time ?

    It is clear to me, they are trying to pay me as little as possible.


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