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10 Ways to Fail at Your Job Interview

Updated on November 3, 2017

There are many web sites that will give you recommendations on how to succeed during a job interview, but not that many explain the various ways to blow a job interview.

While this article is written for laughs, the advice herein is worth noting. Many people approach job interviews in the wrong way and blow their chances for one reason or another. If you really want the job, don't be one of those people. The job interview is your chance to let a potential employer know that you're the right person for the job. Unfortunately, it's also a way to let the employer know you're the wrong person for the job. Here are some ways you can blow, screw up, mess up, and otherwise destroy your chances during the job interview.

Not wearing any pants might blow the job interview.
Not wearing any pants might blow the job interview. | Source

As an employer, what is the most surprising mistake people make in the interview?

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  • You show up late - A great way to impress a potential employer is to show up late for a job interview. I'm being sarcastic, of course. There's basically no excuse for being late. You've had plenty of time to plan, so you should have planned to be wherever it is at least fifteen minutes early. If you can't even do that, what good are you? This is exactly how the employer is going to look at it. But let's assume that, I don't know, you got derailed by a sheep crossing (happens in New Zealand all the time) or some such thing. The next best thing you can do is call ahead and let your potential employer know that you're going to be late and why. There's nothing an employer likes more than when somebody takes full responsibility for something, so say something like this: "I know there's no excuse for being late and I fully understand if you want to cancel the interview, but we've had an actual alien landing here on my front lawn and the FBI will not let me leave my house" or "I apologize that I'm going to be a few minutes late and I accept any consequences that may result. I consider such tardiness unacceptable myself. However, somebody let their pet goat loose and it gored me in the thigh. The paramedics say I should be able to go here in a few minutes." You get the idea. And by the way, there's late and then there's "don't show up" late. A few minutes is one thing. An hour means you're not going to get hired, though you can try the "I thought it was daylight savings time" trick if you want. You have nothing to lose at that point.
  • You show up hung over - Maybe you think you're more clever than you really are, but trust me, most people, like 99% of them, cannot pull this off without the potential employer knowing. The job interview is not the place to show up hung over. No matter how well you think you can hide the hangover, somebody will notice and they'll make note of it and write you off right away. And as a side note, if this is a problem for you, you might ask yourself if it might be a contributing factor to why you're unemployed in the first place.
  • You smell - I can go all kinds of ways with this one. Generally speaking, there are two types of bad smells. There's undershowered and overperfumed. Men are often guilty of the former and women of the latter, though many men have been known to overdo it on the cologne. So let's just start here: prior to a job interview, you should shower. You should do so with a soap that doesn't contain any sort of pronounced odor. Now, some people just sweat all the time, so if you're one of those people, try to cover it up with something that has a neutral smell. However, as much as a potential employer doesn't want to get a whiff of your b.o. during a job interview, neither do they want to sit with you while the smell of roses or Old Spice or whatever the hell it is that you think makes you smell irresistible to the opposite sex wafts through their nostrils. You may think your perfume is the best-smelling thing on the planet, but I guarantee you that the potential employer is thinking about the mutiny that's going to happen in the cubicle farm when his employees rise up to protest the fact that your odor has disrupted their happy environment or possibly caused them to scramble to the bathroom to vomit.
  • You severely underdress or overdress - So if it has crossed your mind to wear a short skirt and go to a job interview with the intention of pulling a Sharon Stone a la "Basic Instinct", rest assured that while your potential employer may find such a move bold, unusual, and momentarily arousing, it is not likely to get you a job. And for you men, cut-off shorts are never a good idea. Anyway, you can both overdress or underdress for a job interview, though underdressing is considerably worse. Sure, I wouldn't wear a three-piece suit if I was applying for a job as a fry cook, but there are worse things. Generally, you want to wear clothing that's just a little nicer than what you would wear on the job. Clothing is also relative to salary. Basically, the more you deviate from the norm on attire, the more you're going to be perceived as a freak. Not knowing how to dress indicates that you probably don't know much about lots of other stuff too and are likely to be a social problem.
  • You freeze up - Being ready for a job interview is about preparation, so if you freeze up, it's most likely that you're not prepared. A qualified, highly motivated applicant should anticipate questions and go over answers before the job interview. That being said, if you've got some kind of medical condition that causes you to go catatonic, that's something you might want to address beforehand. If it's ridiculously cold in the interview room, kindly request somebody to turn up the heat. Otherwise, prepare answers to commonly asked questions and have somebody pretend to be the employer and throw you a few curve balls.
  • You're overqualified and you know it - In a down economy, people frequently interview for jobs they consider below them. Either their qualifications far exceed the requirements of the job or the pay is much lower than their last job. However, it's one thing to be overqualified. It's quite another thing to make sure that that interviewer knows it. This can come out in all sorts of ways. Maybe you underdress as a show of disinterest, thinking that your resume should say it all. Maybe you just come out and talk down to the interviewer and point out that you're clearly more than qualified for the job and that if they want somebody who's going to take the ball and run with it from the get-go, you're the person. Don't ever imply at an interview that the process should just be a formality. Respect the process and the people running it.
  • You give a bad impression to the secretary/host/administrative assistant - If you walk into an interview situation, take one look at the administrative assistant or secretary and say "Hey, baby. Who's your daddy? I think you're going to be working for me real soon", you can bet that's going to get back to somebody. In fact, anything you do in front of any of the interviewer's co-workers is going to get back to the not future boss. If you're annoying in any way, be it saying something derogatory about your parking spot, the smell of the elevator, the color of the walls, your chair, your drive over there, the time of the interview, the carpet - whatever ungrateful comment you can make, that comment will find it's way back to the boss and you can forget about the job. Whiners don't get jobs. Neither do wieners.
  • You talk about why you hated your past jobs - Going for a job interview is not unlike going out on a date. One of the cardinals sins of first dates is talking about your past relationships, especially when you're putting a negative spin on things. A job interview is a first date. It's your first chance to make a good impression. Talking about how your boss doesn't appreciate you and how he's an idiot and you just need a job where you work for somebody intelligent is not going to win you any points. Nobody on a date with you wants to hear about past girlfriends or boyfriends and nobody in an interview room wants to hear you throw your past or current employer under the bus. Remember, no matter how bad a past job was, say something nice or nothing at all. Any job you left should be a result of wanting to pursue other opportunities or some such thing. And I'm not just talking about the interview room here. You should not say anything to anyone, be it the person who lets you in the door or the person who takes your coat. If anybody asks you anything, make sure you give a professional answer. Bitching and moaning is not professional.
  • Farting - If you have this problem, take some GasX before you go for the interview. Don't go out and have a burrito lunch before the interview. If you fart when you're nervous, take a couple of Advil to calm your muscles. And if the worst happens, and you let out a glass shattering fart during the interview, just smile, apologize, and try to mitigate the damage by blaming somebody else. Seriously, if it shattered glass, you might as well get up and leave.
  • Incontinence - Incontinence is farting's mean cousin. If you actually defecate during an interview, try to excuse yourself quickly if there was no sound and head to the nearest bathroom. If you know you're prone to this sort of problem during pressure situations, I might actually consider having a drink beforehand, though this obviously violates some previous rules. Still, some kind of relaxant is in order. Also, there are adult diapers you can wear like Depends. Anyway, if you think this is a possibility, try to sit as far away from the interviewer as possible or make some excuse to get out of the room if you feel something coming on. This all being said, crapping your pants and "you've got the job" don't usually go together, so it's a problem worth solving. You could also install a hidden can of Lysol in your pants.


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