If anything, the current shaky economy and overcrowded job market doesn’t make it any easier to find a job. In desperate job search, candidates tend to forget about the importance of interviews and fall victim to some of most basic things that might go wrong. The opportunity of a job interview is today a success itself and maybe the feeling feeds into candidates’ performance – they simply overlook the fact that job interviews are just the first step at landing a job.

What are job interviews for? Mainly, for the candidates to familiarise themselves with the company and its culture, show aspects of their professional lives and personalities that aren’t included in their resumes and, most importantly, impress the hiring managers.

As with any formal meeting, there are many things that can go wrong during a job interview. Sure, some don’t have anything to do with you – the company might have chosen to do an internal hire or one of the candidates might have used his or her killer networking skills to get the job from under your nose. Other than that, the company might have reorganised its structures so that there was no need for the position advertised or it might have simply cancelled the job posting. Believe it or not, but research shows that almost 10% of job postings are never filled.

There are many things that can ruin a job interview and are within your control. Here are ten most significant reasons why a job interview can go wrong.

1. Better Late Then Never? Not This Time

This seems really basic, but it’s still one of the most common mistakes candidates fall victim to when invited to a job interview. Tardiness should be avoided at all cost – being there on time shows your respect for the time of your potential employers. Anyway, who would want to employ a candidate who might often be late to work?

In order to ensure that you arrive on time, prepare your itinerary before and test your route to make sure that you show up 10 minutes before the time of your scheduled interview. If the interview takes place really far and you need to take a flight, remember to choose an afternoon flight the day before. If you don’t, you might find yourself rushing off in the early morning only to find out your flight was delayed or cancelled. In planning your itinerary, always leave some time for potential distractions like traffic jams or incidents that can happen along the way.

2. No Preparation = No Interest In Collaboration

Sometimes, candidates come to a job interview and have no idea whatsoever about what the company does. Needless to say, they all land in the interviewer’s black list. But that’s not all. There are some standard questions that are always asked on job interviews, and yet some candidates respond to them with an awkward silence and an unnerving ‘hmm’.

Preparation is key! After getting invited for a job interview, sit down at your computer and research the company. You don’t need detailed information – find out how many people it employs, what are its main areas of interest, what are its future goals. All this can be found in the About Us page on the company website. If you’re interested to see what the company was up to recently, check its name in the news search. For detailed information on salaries or employee opinions, browse the web – there are countless resources at your disposal.

After that you can prepare for the questions the hiring manager will surely ask you and rehearse your answers. When doing that, make sure to always refer to relevant professional experience and remark on the projects you were involved in, which are relevant to the position. Avoid bragging, but if that’s how you roll, at least provide some substantial reason behind it.

3. Your Network Didn’t Work

You can be all shy or introverted, but that’s not a reason to avoid networking – especially if you want to work for one particular employer. When interviewing for a job, an internal reference can be a real deal-breaker. Don’t think you’re asking for too much – companies often reward their employees for referring someone who later gets hired and brings benefit to the organization.

First, follow your chosen employers on LinkedIn, search for contacts with whom you share something (other contacts, friends, neighbourhood, school, whatever works) and simply get in touch. You also can benefit from other social media like Twitter and Facebook to manage your professional image. Don’t rely on your profiles to do the job for you – be active and curious.

4. Some Questions Were Too Much

As it often happens, you were so stressed and instead of listening to the interviewer’s questions and providing relevant answers, you just rambled on about everything but the actual subject of the question.

Pointer: our answers should offer substantial information, since you’re getting judged for your competence all the time. Again, prepare and rehearse your answers, but make sure to sound natural when you actually talk with the interviewer.

5. Your Dress Didn’t Impress

At the beginning of the interview, you don’t need to start talking – the recruiter will have already judged you on the basis of your attire. It’s harsh, but it’s the reality of job hunting – first impressions count, especially in short interviews. Arriving in rumpled clothes, improper tie, mini-skirt or low cut blouses can successfully ruin your interview.

Instead, dress properly for the occasion – channel a simple elegance and sharp, professional look. Men should make sure their ties are classic, suits dark and clean, shoes polished, hair brushed and teeth clean. The same goes for women – dress should be formal and make up close to invisible.

6. Betrayed by Body Language

The way you hold yourself is just as important as your clothes. If you fidget when waiting for your interview, give a limp handshake and avoid making eye contact, don’t count on miracles to land the job. A firm grasp on your bodily responses to stress is something that could impress your potential employers.

During the interview, maintain an open position (don’t cross your arms), sit forward and don’t shy away from eye contact. Be enthusiastic about the position and channel this feeling into your body language.

7. Wrong Attitude

It’s no wonder that today job seekers just ooze desperation. This kind of pessimistic attitude can be contagious. Facing a stream of rejection, unanswered applications and tough competition, it’s easy to lose control over your negative feelings, but if you want to succeed, you simply need to harness them.

Expect to do great. Simple, but effective. Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and radiate confidence – all this will get you closer to succeeding.

8. Simply, You Failed to Sell Yourself

There are candidates who tend to refrain from talking about their achievements, because they think it’s bragging – actually, it can be a big mistake. During a job interview, you need to make the most from the limited time you’ve got to demonstrate the skills required for the job.

The truth is that there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, so you should always keep your tone in check. When referring to your successful projects, make sure to bring up the opinions of others, such as “I have a reputation for delivering my projects within budget and before deadlines”, instead of “I’m the best project manager at my company”.

9. No Good Questions Asked

Finishing the interview, the recruiter will usually ask whether you’ve got any questions. A ‘no’ will show lack of enthusiasm or interest in the position offered. This could easily ruin your work from the last hour.

You can always ask an interesting question. Inquire about important aspects of the job, but not holidays or employee perks. Question about the possibility of gaining extra skills or about company culture will surely be appreciated by the hiring manager.

10. You Never Followed Up

Not many people think about it, but it’s important to follow up the interview with a thank you note. It can act as something that will help to set you apart from other candidates interviewed for the job.

Send an e-mail to the recruiter, thanking for the opportunity and repeating your interest in the position. This will take you minutes, but can have a really big impact on the outcome of your interview.

Monica Wells of Bizdb.co.uk has written this article and is a guest contributor to my Blog. Monica is an educator and accomplished businesswoman who has masterminded educational and business-related projects; and she regularly conducts seminars on leveraging the potential of the World Wide Web for professional and self-development.


Annie Cerone