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Are You Sabotaging Yourself In Interviews? Six Signs to Watch Out For

Nov 11, 2011 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 3 Comments

If you find yourself consistently failing to get the job after an interview, sure—it might be the difficult job market. Or it may be something else. It’s not unusual for interviewees to sabotage themselves in interviews, sometimes unconsciously. Here are a few signs you’ve shot yourself in the foot in the interview room.

You don’t take the time to research the company

Hiring managers typically look for people who have, among other things, a real passion for working for this particular company. If you come in clueless about what the company does or how it fits with your own goals, you’re probably not making a good impression.

Google every company before you go in for an interview—and have a solid answer prepared when the interviewer asks, “why do you want to work with us?”

You bring up salary and benefits right away


The job market isn’t easy for anyone right now. No job applicant can afford not to pay attention to potential mistakes that could sink an interview.


Let’s face it: a big reason you want this job is the money. Or maybe you want to switch jobs because you want a more flexible schedule, and that’s hugely important in deciding whether to take a job. But even so, the time to bring that up is after they’ve decided they want you—not before. If you bring it up beforehand, they’ll think you’re just about the money or you have a lot of high-maintenance demands. In initial interviews, give the impression that the only reason you want to work for them is for the company itself.

You’re not warm

Some people clam up when they get nervous. This can come across, to people you don’t know, as a cold or even snobby attitude. You might be warm and charming with your friends, but if you find yourself going into what you consider “professional mode” in job interviews, you could be hiding your greatest asset—your personality. Always make an effort to be friendly, warm, and relaxed during job interviews. If you can get the interviewer to like you on a personal level, you’ll have a huge advantage.

Your body language is hurting you

We often send unconscious signals that could derail even the most well-prepared interviewee. If you fail to maintain eye contact, fidget nervously in your chair, slouch, adjust your clothing while walking in, or shake hands with a limp instead of a firm grip, you could be undermining yourself.

You show up late—or too early

Showing up late is an obvious no-no. But showing up too early could sink your chances, too. It’s awkward to have interviewees hanging out in the lobby half an hour before the interview starts. Instead, show up ten minutes beforehand—giving yourself enough time to deal with any last-minute bathroom runs you need to make, without having to wait around in the lobby too long.

You’re too positive

When you’re asked what your biggest flaw is, give a less-obvious answer. Interviewers are on to that response about being too much of a perfectionist. Most of the time, when someone asks you a question about a problem or issue you’ve faced, they want to hear a real story about how you overcame adversity in the workplace. Don’t sugar-coat your history by pretending you have no flaws or nothing has ever gone wrong for you. But when telling the story, emphasize how you’re solving or have solved the problem.

The job market isn’t easy for anyone right now. No job applicant can afford not to pay attention to potential mistakes that could sink an interview. Assess your past interview performance, and see if you’ve made any of these mistakes. Once you can identify what you’re doing wrong, you’ll have an opportunity to strengthen your performance—and land the job.

Interview Dos and Don'ts -


eslconsult Over a year ago

Unbelievable that this sort of article needs to be published. It's just good form to behave appropriately at an interview. Of course you want money, but don't ask about it at the first encounter. Be prompt and professional.

eslconsult Over a year ago

New grads need a pep talk. Learn good form, be polite, prompt and professional.

Heather C Over a year ago

While we're talking about research, it's also good to research some common and not-so-common interview questions and think about how you'll answer. Interview yourself before you go to an official interview -- record yourself and ask yourself, honestly, would you hire you? If not, make improvements. If so, go get 'em!

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