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How to Fail an Interview: What NOT to do When Job Hunting

Updated: Feb 24, 2019

You sent in your application and got the interview. Now it’s time to secure the job. It’s important to know what you’re doing, but what is equally as important is knowing what not to do. The following actions will ensure that any employer will cross your name off his or her list and leave you jobless.

1. Show up late. Feel free to hit that snooze button a couple more times. Your interviewer understands that you’re a busy person. Besides, you don’t want to seem too eager.

Timing is everything. If you can’t make it to a simple interview on time, how can you be trusted to meet deadlines? Always arrive at least five minutes early and allow yourself time to mentally prepare. No one likes to have his or her time wasted. Arriving on time will help you make a better first impression.

2. Dress inappropriately. An interview is the perfect opportunity to show off that new mini skirt or stilettos. Or better yet, just throw on a t-shirt and jeans because you want to make sure you feel as comfortable as possible. 

Your appearance is the first impression you make on an interviewer. How you put yourself together can determine if the employer sees you as a potential candidate or not. Stick to appropriate business attire that is flattering and comfortable. You do not want to have to constantly re-adjust your clothes because it could be distracting to the employer. If you’re unsure about what to wear, business professional is always safer than business casual. You want to present the best version of yourself in a professional manner.

3. Play hard to get. If you show you’re uninterested in the company, it will make the employers want you more. Bring up your other job offers to make the interviewer jealous. It will make him or her want to hire you on the spot. 

One of the most common questions asked in an interview is “Why do you want to work for this company?” Employers want to hire people who will be passionate about the organization. You should express your interest in the company’s mission and values. Share what you love about the organization’s culture and past work they have done. The interviewer wants to see that you care about more than the pay and the hours.

4. Forget your homework. Don’t waste your time researching the company with which you’re interviewing. The employer will tell you everything you need to know once you’re there. You don’t want to look like a know-it-all. 

Having prior knowledge of the company’s goals and the type of work it has done will set you apart from the competition. You will impress the interviewer if you can discuss past campaigns and offer your own ideas about strategies. Employers want to see that you just don’t want a job, but that you want this job.

5. Never say thank you. Employers have already made their decision about whether they want to hire you or not as soon as the interview is over. Sending a thank you note is a waste of time and postage. Plus, everyone hates a brown-noser.

A company doesn’t have to give you an interview. An employer has no obligation to take the time to meet with you and give you a chance to be hired. Always send a simple thank you letter or e-mail expressing your gratitude for the opportunity. Not only is it courteous, but it could also make the employer remember your name.

Sending in an application is only the first step to receiving a job offer. If the experience and skills on your résumé impress an employer, you earn an interview with the company. This doesn’t guarantee you the job. You have to demonstrate what you are capable of doing and give the words on your résumé real meaning. If you avoid the actions previously discussed, you’re on your way to a successful interview. 

-by Megan Perkins, PRSSA General Member

Megan Perkins is a sophomore studying public relations and management at The University of Alabama. She is a member of UA PRSSA and is currently the assistant account executive for The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations for Capstone Agency. Connect with her on LinkedIn or at  ​​


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