6 Interview FAILS… and how to avoid them

By Ryane, Jackson, Staffing Consultant

Your recruiter has found a role that would be perfect for you and has set you up with a face-to-face interview with the hiring manager. At this point you already know they like your background and resume. Now it’s time to make sure that they like you.

I always ask my candidates how they think the interview went before I hear back from the hiring manager. I like to hear how confident my candidate is about their interview to see if both the candidate and hiring manager are on the same page.

It used to surprise me when a candidate thought the interview went great, but the hiring manager thought differently.

Now, I know better.

Often times candidates make what they think is a subtle mistake in the interview, but it’s actually a big mistake to the hiring manager. Some of these mistakes/fails/errors are common and many entry level candidates are unaware that they are even making these mistakes. Some, however, are a bit more obvious and leave me scratching my head.

With that said, here are some ever-so-common mistakes I see during interviews, and how to avoid them:

1. EYE CONTACT- Believe it or not, hiring managers might pass on hiring you if you do not make proper and appropriate eye contact in an interview. Making eye contact shows you can communicate and respond to others while you’re conversing. It also shows you’re engaged and listening. Not making eye contact can send the opposite message. 

2. HANDSHAKE- Yes, we’ve heard this before but I can’t stress how important this is. I have had people lose out on job opportunities because their handshake was weak, insincere, and even sweaty. Whether you think this is important or not, many hiring managers will judge you on your handshake. So grab a friend or trusted colleague and ask them to give you an honest assessment of your handshake – do you need to firm up you grip? Keep a tissue in your pocket to absorb moisture? These things could make all the difference.

3. PREVIOUS JOB BASHING- Many candidates spend too much time talking about how they hated their last job and how everything their boss did was ‘unfair’. This leaves the hiring managers wondering, “Gee, what will this person say about me when they’re gone?” It’s best to stay POSITIVE and DON’T mention any negative opinions you had of your last job. Similar to talking about an ex on a first date: it’s a no-no.

4. SWEARING- Believe it or not, I have had candidates swear during our initial interview. From substituting the word ‘stuff’ for a more aggressive s-worded synonym, to actually dropping the ‘f-bomb’. Swearing is almost never appropriate in the office, and therefore should not be done in an interview.

5. GIVING WRONG ANSWERS- Avoiding this mistake takes practice, confidence, and preparation. Nevertheless, many interviews have gone down a negative path when the candidate answers a question ‘wrong.’ For example, I had a candidate who thought she did a great job answering the question, “Where do you see yourself in the next couple of years?” She answered this by explaining she was eventually looking to become a Project Manager. Unfortunately this interview was for an Office Administrator, and therefore the hiring manager passed on pursuing this candidate because he did not believe she was focused on the same goals as the company. Instead, she could have said “While I ultimately see myself managing projects, I’d love to take that time to absorb all I can, be an asset to the company, and ensure the office is running as smoothly as possible so I can contribute in other ways down the road.”

6. PREPARATION- When you come to an interview and do not have a copy of your resume with you as well as a valid ID (license, passport, state issued ID card, etc.) you may be coming off in an unprofessional way and unprepared even if that was not your intention. I often hear the phrase “my printer was broken” in response to not having their resume, and it makes me wonder, how many broken printers are out there?


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