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The 10 Biggest Interview Killers

Thanks to Jo Turner at JobDig for summing up the biggest interview killers for us!  Take a read if you are in the market.

You’ve worked hard to win the interview. Don’t spoil all your work to this point and let yourself fall into one of these interview-killers. Here are 10 of the biggest interview-killers job seekers often commit and how you can easily avoid each one of them:

1. Not Interviewing the Company. Tattoo this on your forehead: You’re not here to ask for a job, you’re here to interview them. Your objective at the interview is to find out whether this organization is a good fit for YOU. At the same time, get your interviewer to reveal what a “good fit” means to him or her. This might be a question you ask during the course of the interview.

2. Being Too Needy. Take this weight off your shoulders right now. Neediness is probably the number-one advantage-killer in an interview. Realize before you even walk in the door: you do not need this job. Sure, you DO need food, you DO need air and you DO need water. Here is your mantra: “I DO NOT NEED THIS JOB.”

3. Not Asking Specific Questions. Your goal is to find out more about what this job is really about and whether you want to ask for it. To find out, you need to know what’s in your interviewer’s mind. Arrive with a list of several prepared questions about the company, the position and the people who work there. Ask questions that begin, What, How, and Why. Avoid simple yes/no questions. This gives you some control during the interview and avoids the feeling that you’re in an interrogation. Get your interviewer talking as much as possible. Then take notes.

4. Compromising Your Position. You should always walk in the door as an equal, not a subordinate, of the interviewer. You have no reason to compromise or take a one-down position. Doing so puts you at an immediate disadvantage from the start. Some interviewers love to create an aura of superiority. Don’t grovel. Remember, you don’t have to give up anything, including your self-respect, to get this job.

5. Answering Their Questions. As previously mentioned, the interview is not an interrogation. It should be a conversation. Don’t just answer their questions. That’s why you’ve prepared your stories, which will be your moments to shine. When you DO answer any questions, make sure that you answer immediately and follow up with a question of your own, if at all possible.

6. Making Incorrect Assumptions. Points are not deducted at the interview for asking questions when you don’t understand something. Don’t guess what your interviewer means by something he or she may have either said or asked. Effective interviewing is all about collecting information in real time, taking good notes, and responding only to the actual facts you’ve collected. If you find yourself making assumptions or guessing about something that was said, stop and ask for clarification before you answer.

7. Getting Emotional. At times the interviewer may hit a nerve or consciously try to provoke you into an “outburst”. Don’t fall for it. Clear your mind of any fears or expectations so you can maintain a calm, open-minded perspective at all times. When emotions enter into an interview, failure follows. Above all, remember #2 above.

8. Lousy Non-Verbal Communication. This means things like lack of eye contact and weak handshake. Women, don’t let yourself fall into this trap. Male interviewers especially look for this one. It is about demonstrating confidence – by standing straight, making eye contact, and connecting with a good, firm handshake when you enter the interview room. Your first impression can either be a great start or sudden death to your interview.  If necessary, jot his or her name on your notepad as soon as you seat yourself. Do the same for any other individual with whom you are meeting.

9. Rambling. Telling your interviewer more than necessary can be fatal. Your stories should be 60 to 90 seconds long and have a relevant point. Focus, focus, focus. Stick with your rehearsed stories, your research and the questions you need to ask. Don’t fill up the silence with unnecessary talk.

10. Being Overly-Familiar. A good interviewer will be skilled enough to put you at ease within the first 10 minutes of the interview. That doesn’t mean this person has become your best friend. Don’t let your guard down now; you’ve come too far. Use your research and pre-interview prep to carry you through the rest of the interview. That means you’re there to interview them and get answers to your questions. The interviewer, no matter how friendly, is not your best bud. Treat this from start to finish as the professional business meeting that it is.


A job interview can be a minefield for the unprepared or inexperienced job seeker. You don’t have to fall victim. When you plan ahead, you can easily avoid the major pitfalls in any interview and maintain calmness and confidence. You already know you can do the job. Make sure the interviewer knows you can, too.

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