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7 Ways to Ruin a Job Interview

Posted by Heather Huhman

November 19, 2014

Ruining a job interview is a nightmare for many job seekers. Whether it’s the fear of forgetting a detail on their resume or arriving late to the interview, job interviews can cause a lot of anxiety.

Regardless of how much you prepare for a job interview, there are a number of mistakes that will risk your chances of landing the job. To help you avoid ruining a job interview, here are seven mistakes you should avoid:

1. Not speaking to your resume.

An interview mistake many job seekers make is overselling their skills and experience on their resume. When this happens, a candidate may appear during the interview not to be the person said they said they were on their resume.


For example, if the interviewer starts questioning you about the long list of skills on your resume, but you don’t have accomplishments supporting those skills, it might cause you to backpedal during the interview. Because of this, the hiring manager might wonder if you’re telling the truth on your resume.

2. Only talking about one skill set.

Hiring managers are looking for well-rounded candidates who have a variety of hard and soft skills. Although you may only be tempted to talk about your strongest technical skills during the interview, it’s also important to highlight your soft skills. This will show the hiring manager you’re a versatile candidate and will be easily trained once hired.

3. Not elaborating on your previous experience.

Don’t feel like you need to keep every response short and sweet during an interview. Hiring managers actually want to know about your previous accomplishments in detail if they strongly relate to the position.

4. Talking too much or too little.

Job interviews are nerve wracking for many candidates, so it can be difficult to find the perfect balance when speaking to the interviewer. The best way to approach conversation during a job interview to pay close attention to pauses in conversation, body language, and the amount of time you speak.

For example, if you find yourself going on for several minutes about a previous work experience and you notice the hiring manager is staring at their watch, you should wrap up your thought. This will keep you from losing the hiring manager’s attention.

5. Using cliche phrases and buzzwords.

While many hiring managers want to hire candidates who are “team players” or “passionate”  about their work, they want you to demonstrate these qualities. For example, instead of telling a hiring manager you’re passionate about your work, explain to them what makes you feel passionate about your profession.

6. Appearing over-confident.

Nearly any piece of career advice you read will tell you to sell yourself to the employer. While this is an important thing to do during a job interview, it’s important not to overcompensate when explaining your skills or experience.

The best way to be confident yet genuine during your interview is to be honest and genuine. Use examples from your past experience that support why you’re the best candidate for the position. This will show the employer you are truly an excellent fit.

7. Losing control over the job interview.

There are many instances when it feels like the hiring manager has complete control over the job interview. For example, if you’re sitting in the interview and the hiring manager is dwelling on your weaknesses, you’ll want to turn around the focus of the conversation to your strengths.

To gain back control during the job interview, it’s up to you to shift the conversation. For instance, if the hiring manager asks you why you only worked at your previous job for six months, focus on what you gained from the position rather than why you left the job.

When you prepare for your next job interview, remember that not every interview will be perfect or go as planned. However, if you make yourself aware of these mistakes that could cost you a job, you’ll be more likely to feel more confident and prepared for the interview.

What are some other ways candidates can ruin a job interview?