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Job Interview: Failing 101

Updated on June 21, 2012

Ever wonder why they passed you up for that job?

With the exception of two instances, both of which were during tough times in my life when I had to be on anti-anxiety/-depression medication (the only times that's ever happened), I have gotten accepted at every job I've interviewed for. I've had to turn down one or two because of the hours they say they want me for, but I got accepted.

Now I'm not a manager, let alone a manager that hires people, by any means, but y' hear things. Whether it's from those managers, or you happen to be walking by and accidentally overhear(evesdrop), or your friend tells you, there are a LOT of things that people do seriously wrongly in job interviews - and it just so happens that these things will usually cost you the job. Not always, but... usually.

So here's a short list of what NOT to do....

  1. Do NOT walk in with a tank top, torn jeans, and sandals. Or your jeans around your knees, if you're a 'g'. It just doesn't look professional. Unless you're going for a job at hooters or in the record industry. Nobody wants unprofessional, and, if you do somehow manage to get hired, the people who work there who saw you walk in in your most laid-back swag gear will never respect you, and you'll be miserable.
  2. Answer the question "are you comfortable doing 'x' ?" with "well it depends". If they tell you that you're going to be doing whatever "x" is a lot, you might just want to say yes. Otherwise you get the "well, that concerns me. Can you clarify?", which, for anyone who's ever been on an interview at all knows, is usually the kiss of death, unless you're REALLY good at recovering or the interviewer just wasn't listening. For example, at my cafe job, heard a lady being interviewed while I was cleaning tables, and I heard her get the "can you clarify?" - It was about upselling products. Like asking people if they want a chocolate chip cookie to go with their coffee. Simple stuff that we're supposed to do as a business to STAY in business. "Well it depends, if it's a product I like, I don't have a problem selling it, but if I don't think it tastes good, no". I have a feeling I probably won't be seeing her training any time soon. Just shut up and say yes. I'm allergic to half the food we sell (whether it's turkey, lactose, or bell peppers), but I'm honest about it - I've heard only GREAT things about those items, and I am not afraid to tell people which ones I sell more of even if I've never had something. And I've sold a lot of items that way.
  3. Cop an attitude. That kind of goes with the story above. "Well if I LIKE the product..." It doesn't matter to your boss if you like a product or not, it's in the story, you're supposed to sell it.
  4. Answer a question with something that you're not convinced of. I got asked one time "What do you see yourself doing in ten years?". This was during one of my rough periods (one of the two interviews I didn't get a job from), and I honestly didn't know. I could barely see the light at the end of the tunnel. But instead of just saying "You know, I'm not sure, but whatever it is I know I want to be successful," I said "Uh...I dunno. Sitting on a beach sipping a daqueri?" Not professional, which I realized after I'd said it, but it was already out thanks to the meds (they kind of messed with my word vomit filter a little). Which leads me to my next one.
  5. Go to an interview stoned, whether it's prescription drugs or not! I was in no condition to go into that interview, taking the doctor-prescribed dosage. Skip taking your pill the day before, and go in with a clear mind. Even if you're a nervous wreck, it's better than them staring into glassy eyes while you tune out and have to ask them to repeat their question.
  6. Roll your eyes during an interview. First off, rolling your eyes should be reserved for contemptuous five year olds. It's just immature. Unless you're dealing with a seriously immature topic, just don't do it. When you're being interviewed, they're watching your body language, especially on your face and dealing with eye contact - maintain eye contact, and be serious. Even if they say something funny, do the professional laugh, not the giggle snort. Even if the interviewer doesn't know what they're doing. (had one of those once. Lady asked me the same three questions with the exact same wording - I have a photographic memory, if you say something more than once in the half hour period you're talking to me, I'm gonna start worrying about you - four times each and didn't understand why I was looking at her a little funny and replying with the same answers.)
  7. Discuss your personal life. It's work - leave personal at the door. Unless the interviewer is your bff and asks about it.
  8. Swear. This one should be obvious.
  9. Also, don't use too much slang. Going into the interview, slapping the interviewer's hand and saying 'yo, dawg, wassup?' isn't the best way to go about things.
  10. Ask them if they like your tattoos and/or piercings. Look, I don't have a problem with tattoos. A lot of my friends are tattooed and pierced and look like decorated pincushions, and they're very professional and good at their jobs. If someone says you can't have visible tattoos or piercings for the job, they're honestly probably a little bit flexible on that given today's fads. But don't walk in with ALL of your piercings in, show them off by playing with them, and wear a low-cut top so they can see your 'pectoral' tattoos. Dress professionally, and don't draw attention to them - just be yourself, but don't be obnoxious about your 'independent streak'. If they like you and you aren't obnoxious about drawing attention to them, they'll probably hire you anyways. If you're sitting there fiddling with your tongue piercing and twirling your eyebrow bar while the district manager is in the room, don't count on getting hired.
  11. Tell them that racist/sexist/stupid joke you know. Or any jokes involving ducks or grapes. If you say something rather amusing during the interview, it's one thing, but if you just go off on a tangent and go through a whole entire joke, it's something completely different. Don't go out of your way to try to be funny. You'll probably miss. Besides, this is a job interview, so I'm betting you're not trying to be a stand-up comic. Unless that's your night job, and they ask about it, and ask you to tell a joke. Then tell a joke.


...depending on the job, I really don't see how you can't get it unless you're not qualified (like if you've never gone to med school and are applying to be a doctor at a hospital) or they've already filled the position but not met their interview quota (Which I had someone tell me once, that an interviewer said to them). Be the professional version of yourself, present yourself in a manner consistant with someone who's serious about wanting the job, and you should do just fine.

Have you ever failed a job interview?

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    • Quirinus profile image

      Queirdkus Ω Ibidem 

      7 years ago from Sitting on the Rug

      Thanks for sharing, JenPaxton. I think a strong positive energy can be established during interviews if the interviewee sincerely (even if unvoiced) wishes the company well, that is, with such a thought as "May they end up choosing the person most suitable to the position." Just thought I should share.

    • JenPaxton profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen Paxton 

      7 years ago from Missouri

      Yeah, also, don't tell people you're just looking to get more money and you don't know what they do. I overheard the managers talking about that one the other day. Wow.

    • marthamuldoon profile image


      7 years ago from Austin, TX

      Good advice. One would think they were obvious, but not to everyone. I would also add - turn off your cell phone and don't text or answer it during the interview. You would think no one would do that, but....


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