Guaranteed ways to mess up a job interview

We may think that by now we have all mastered the art of job interviews. We may have read every article there is about how you should act in an interview and practiced every question that could possibly be thrown at us but unfortunately, we rarely think about the things we really shouldn’t be doing.

While some are glaringly obvious, there are other guaranteed ways to mess up a job interview that you may be doing without even realising.

Talking negatively about a previous employer

We’ve all had a boss that we would rather forget but speaking badly about them in a job interview isn’t going to get you anywhere. Even if it’s through no fault of your own, as soon as you mention that you didn’t get on with your previous employer, your interviewer is instinctively going to wonder if you’re difficult to get on with. When asked this question, which will happen, handle yourself with dignity and rather say that you are looking for a new challenge.

Over-selling yourself

In normal everyday life people tend to be quite hard on themselves.  However, we’ve had it programmed into us that job interviews are the time to sell ourselves and believe it or not, it’s actually very easy to get carried away. As well as appearing false or arrogant, the biggest problem with spending the whole interview focusing on selling yourself is that you could forget to ask vital questions and by the end of the job interview have no idea if the role is even a good fit for you or not.


Never be afraid to make an effort when going to a job interview. Even if you know that the normal dress code for the office is casual, remember that you are still trying to make a good impression. It’s far better to go over-dressed than too casual because by doing that you’re making the employer think that you couldn’t be bothered to make an effort.

Not preparing your evidence

It’s all very well telling your interviewer that you boast certain skills, experience and achievements but what will you say when they ask for examples? It’s important for candidates to have quantitative evidence because without stories and numbers not only can it appear as though you are making things up, but your interview will be nowhere near as memorable and effective as it could be.

Crying or getting visibly agitated

Crying during an interview may seem like a glaringly obvious faux pas but believe it or not, it does happen. A job interview can be incredibly stressful especially if you know that you really need or want the job. No matter how overwhelmed you feel though, don’t ever cry or show that you are visibly agitated. All this will do is show the interviewer that you can’t handle stressful situations and chances are that you will not get the job.

Not showing commitment to the role

When a potential employer is interviewing you they want to know that you are 100% committed to the role. If you are interviewing for a management accountant role for example, don’t say that you would also be happy working in payroll or credit control because this says that your heart isn’t really in it.

Focusing too much on the benefits

Understandably, when deciding whether or not to take a job, the pay and benefits are going to be a huge influencing factor. If this is the first thing you ask however, the employer is going to think this is all you care about. On your first interview just focus on learning more about the job and letting the employer get to know you. If you get a second interview this is the time to start asking about salary and benefits.

Not researching the company

One of the biggest complaints amongst recruiters is that candidates turn up to interviews without doing their research about the company. You are highly likely to get asked what you know about the company and any products or services that they offer. If you haven’t done the research you will look and feel silly which could throw you off and mess up the rest of your interview. Just an hour’s worth of research can be the difference between getting a job or not.

Not having any questions

We’re all familiar with the end of interview routine – the interviewer will ask if you have any questions. One of the worst things a candidate can ever do is say no. This tells the interviewer that you haven’t really thought about the role and didn’t bother preparing. No matter what the question is, make sure that you at least ask something. Prepare a list of questions before your interview so if one of them gets covered during the interview you have others to fall back on.

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