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When you reached the interview stage your chances of landing a job are good. Employers rarely interview more than a handful of candidates. Most interviewers want you succeed; they need to find someone and have other things to do.

Don’t blow the opportunity by making a basic mistake. While a good interview technique might not count for more than your skills and experience, a bad interview will  lose you a job that by rights you should have.

There are five ways you can fail a job interview:

Not preparing

As the cliché says:  prepare to succeed, don’t prepare to fail.

Know yourself. Know the skills, experience, attitudes, past performance, values you offer the employer.

Find out about the company, its products or services and who its customers are. Think about where you can play a part.

If possible, check what the company wants from employees. Try searching for news stories about the company and its activities. Read blogs written by people working for the company and what outsiders have to say about it.

Act like you know everything

Interview preparation is a good idea, but don’t overdo the knowledge act. Everyone dislikes a person who behaves like they know everything. In knowledge-based industries no one person can know everything.

It is more important to show the ability to ask the questions so you can identify the issue or solution or steps to the solution. Knowing where to get the answers is at least as important as having the answers to hand.


Experienced interviewers quickly recognize which potential employees are full of hot air and which are the real McCoy.

One of the biggest mistakes is lying or over-selling your skills and ability. Try this and you’ll quickly come undone and ruin your reputation right across the industry. Assume employers talk to each other.

Outright lies are less commonplace than exaggeration or missing information. Whatever the temptation, avoid all types of untruth. Should things go wrong and you find yourself in a dispute things could get nasty – there have been cases employees being sued for misrepresentation.

Lack interest

Some jobs seem dull, but if you fail to show interest in the work on offer or the company doing the offering how can you expect them to show interest in you?

You may have to take on less exciting roles to reach the better one. The biggest mistake a knowledge worker can make in an interview is to come across as being too aloof, uninterested or not bothering to ask questions.

Betray previous employers

Prospective employers don’t want to hear tales about the awfulness of your previous workplaces, or worse, negative stories about people.

This sets off alarm bells. The smarter ones suspect that it might only be a matter of time before you badmouth them.

By the same token, you shouldn’t normally consider giving away insider knowledge or trade secrets of your previous employer. It doesn’t matter how justified you may feel, it doesn’t matter if your new employer is a direct competitor, never volunteer this kind of information. Doing so will see you labelled as a potential traitor.

One thought on “Sure fire ways to fail job interviews

  1. We were once sent a CV written in pencil. It was passed round the office so everyone could marvel at it – before being thrown in the bin.

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