How to Fail Your Interview [You're doing it wrong!]

by SixFigureStart | April 14, 2009

  • My Vault

We don't pretend to have all the answers here at Pink Slipped, but when it comes to interviews, you'd think there were certain common sense rules that govern etiquette, appearance and responses. However, according to an article in today's Wall Street Journal, you'd be dead wrong. The job market is overcrowded and hypercompetitive, and it seems as though the frustrating nature of job searching in such conditions is leading many of those lucky enough to even land an interview to appear so bitter or desperate that they cost themselves any chance of getting an offer. It's important to be passionate, but being too aggressive, even unknowingly, isn't a good thing. So let's briefly review some of the tips offered by the WSJ to make sure that you don't end up being the guy who shows up an hour early for his interview only to blow it by spending the entire time lamenting how tough it is out there (again, you might assume a modicum of common sense, but this stuff really happens).

Announce your arrival no sooner than 10 minutes before your appointment. Do you really want to be the guy nobody knows, awkwardly waiting around the company's lobby while gainfully employed individuals (and potential future coworkers) gawk at you and speculate on your identity amongst each other?

Firm handshake = Confidence. Heard it a million times already? Too bad. It's that important. Project confidence. Try not to tap your fingers or nervously glance around the room, avoiding eye-contact with the interviewer. Kind of a tip-off that you're not quite all there.

Keep it professional and upbeat. If you've been laid off, don't complain about your tough times. Stay positive and discuss how you'd love the opportunity to use your skills in a new and exciting way.

Do your homework. This doesn't just mean researching the company hierarchy online. You need to know and understand the marketplace so that you can demonstrate how you can make an impact. To that end, describe your relevant accomplishments and, "Customize yourself and make yourself memorable," says Kathy Marsico, senior vice president of human resources at PDI Inc., a Saddle River, N.J. provider of sales and marketing services for pharmaceutical companies.

Wait until you actually have an offer to discuss pay. Along the same lines, even if you're just looking for an unemployment stopgap and you're not all that excited about the job itself, don't let it be known. Always project excitement.

Mind the follow-up. It's important to follow up with your interviewer, and this is not just a throwaway step in the process. Be careful with spelling and grammar, and double-check to make sure you've got everyone's name right. If things go well, don't stalk the interviewer. Give it a week before you check on your candidacy, and only call recruiters at their office. And if you get the voicemail, please, please PLEASE just leave a message and hang up. Don't just keep calling--there's this invention called Caller ID, and your recruiter definitely has it. And in case you were wondering, "leave a message" means leave ONE message. Don't be like Mikey.


The Interview That'll Bag a Job [Wall Street Journal]


--Posted by Steven Schiff, Vault News & Commentary

Close button

Get tips on interviewing, networking, resumes, and more directly to your inbox.

No Thanks

Get Our Career Newsletter

Interview, resume and job search tips emailed directly to you.