How to Mess Up a Job Interview

I have written several blog posts, and have an entire section in my book, based on the popular premise that “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”  Every person you meet may prove to be an important connection in advancing your career.  Always be ready!

There is one important professional instance in which first impressions are crucial and for which you have time to prepare–the job interview.  Your resume and references have proven to be enough to get you in the door, and now it’s time to seal the deal.

In a post on Secrets of the Job Hunt, contributor Ramon Greenwood shared fourteen mistakes that job candidates can make when sitting down in front of their potential employers for an interview.  All of the points are important, but here are three that really stood out to me along with my thoughts on each one:

1. Fail to gather information about the employer. Why is a business going to hire you if you have not shown an interest in what they do?  You need to be educated about the place you hope to work and be prepared to ask intelligent questions.  You need to be able to articulate your ROI in the employers terms, the same way you will once you are hired and are planning for your raise at the end of each year.

2. Bad mouth your former employer. Maybe your previous job situation was horrible.  But, it does no good to focus on the negative.  The people interviewing you will be left to wonder if maybe you were the poison in the office.

3. Fail to express appreciation for the opportunity. You need to thank everyone in the office, including the receptionist who offered you a glass of water while you waited.  People talk and will compare their experiences with you.  Be gracious from the moment you enter the building.

All of you have been interviewed for a job and many of you have been the one leading the interview.  What advice would you offer?  Serious or silly … we want to read them!

About the author


Joe Lavelle

Joe Lavelle is the Co-Founder of intrepidNow. Prior to that Joe was an accomplished healthcare IT executive and career coach with a record of successfully meeting the business and technology challenges of diverse organizations including health plans, health delivery networks, health care companies, and several Fortune 500 companies.

Joe is also the author of Act As If It Were Impossible To Fail, available on Amazon.


  • Joe,

    All great points! I especially like the advice in #3 – “Be gracious from the moment you enter the building.” Before making a hiring decision, most employers will take a poll from the receptionist on up – and don’t forget, many offices now have cameras in the reception area!

    I could add dozens of “how to mess up an interview” items to your list, but the story I’ve heard from several recruiters lately is about candidates who interrupted the interview to answer their cell phones! Next!


  • Thanks Gwen! I find that it really helps my coaching clients when I convince/force them to “practice interview” with me. So far none have tried to answer their phone during a practice interview!

Click here to post a comment