9+ Ways to Fail Your Interview – Killer Mistakes You Must Avoid

interview failRejected once again? Then its time to sit down and think why you are not the one. Candidates often concentrate on putting more and more meat in their CV but forget about the bones.

We looked at 9 killer interview mistakes that choke your chances to get hired!

1. Forgetting formidable formalities – resume, CV, cover letter!

Seriously you don’t have to read the rest of the article if you don’t know how to go with these so formal things. You must know how to write a resume, CV, cover letter. And until now if you don’t know the difference then please don’t beat about your qualifications! You are already disqualified!

The ones with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors will be binned immediately. I know many of the hot heads who consider themselves show stoppers will be asking “Come on! we are not going through English exams”. Well you seriously need to resit your English exam.

Choose your words wisely. Keep it as simple as formal as possible. Remember, its not just your documents being received by employer. Its actually you visiting. Respect the format and purpose of these documents or keep on waiting for call as there will not be any.

Double, triple, quadruple… check as many times as you can for blunders like your email address (your own and a sober one please), contact number, time you joined and left organizations. Don’t leave such things on auto-correct.

Never forget to bring your curriculum vitae with you when you are going for an interview. Don’t carry it rolled up in your hand you are not going to a shopping mall with your list. Have it placed in a decent paper file or a cover.

Sometimes you have hand over these documents at reception. Be polite and if you have questions or concerns about your documents, especially originals, then ask it out instead of behaving completely out of manner or trying to tell person on the other side of the corner how to deal with such documents or being simply over clever. Those people are there for a reason. And messing with these people might mean messing straight with your interviewer.

2. Lie! – about qualification, experience, especially your last job!

Liars. I hate them. Everybody hates them. Can you trust someone who lied? No! How can employers trust you with their resources in your hand if your lies are written all over your resume and you yourself is a walking talking definition.

Don’t do it. Its not just this interview. It will seriously dent your credibility for long. Lie is one thing that will surely come back. Ever heard of what goes around, comes around? Sooner or later you will have to pay back. But 99% of the time interviewer will see through your lies.

Lie is not just adding false experience to your CV or having a fake academic record. Its much more. To me even making false claims, accepting challenges that you know you can’t meet, telling something that you can’t substantiate (even if it is true) is a lie.

For example I love to ask one question every time:

“Tell me about any one of your weaknesses”

“My weakness is that I just can’t find any in myself”

I think moment of silence won’t be enough, we must have a global holiday for such beings… seriously…

Every interviewer has its own lie-detection-machine running on his questions. If they are asking about something you tried to hide then be truthful. I prefer a fire with interviewer praising my honesty rather a hire with employer ultimately tearing my future disclosing my lies.

Yes if it is something personal and if interviewer is trying to probe for details that has nothing to do with the job you are applying for you can also put a pause to it by saying e.g. “I have been as detailed as possible”.

If you made a mistake and now questioned about it, admit it and show that you have learnt from it and have corrected yourself to be effective for the position. Don’t throw yourself in a negative zone. If you are sensitive and hiding it, put yourself in the shoes of employer and think of their situation as they need a reason to trust you which you have already lost. So take it as an opportunity to have it cleaned instead of tackling it emotionally and reinforcing interviewers fear that you are a liar.

3. Knows more than interviewer + I-factor + Other attitude issues

This is going to be long…

I know it will be hard to get through your skull so let me put it straight. There is a reason why the one interviewing you is on the other side of the table. You can’t simply hop over!

I do get candidates who literally start telling me about what the job is. Yes the same job that I AM offering them. This is a common problem with youngsters these days especially newly grads and affiliates. Their attitude is just hilarious sometimes. Just because they recently got a fancy qualification they think they know the world. I know its out of inexperience. But I really feel sad that if they keep such attitude they will learn the hard way.

One thing candidates often misunderstand is that getting qualified was meant for their own grooming and to be able to do something and it has nothing in it for employer. Let me make it easy for you. Your education (qualification) is a plain passport. Yes it can take you places but you can’t if you don’t have a visa and a ticket. Consider visa your experience and ticket your skill.

Sometimes I do get mind readers. Yes! they think they can read my mind and tell what I am thinking about them and that actually is the beginning of the end.

Just the other day I was doing interview and almost concluding it. I asked about her salary expectations. She quickly responded and that made me look at her experience again that was not ON the bottom but the bottom itself. As I was concluding I remarked briefly about her inexperience. And she was like, “You are getting overly concerned about my inexperience”. I ignored it with a silence and suddenly a tectonic shift occurred and all her I know all volcano exploded. And then I received a ‘lecture’ about things she thinks I don’t know. But I do know one thing now. Yes you guessed it right.

I understand every employee wants to grow and they must ask for more and there is nothing wrong in it. And yes I love to negotiate. I really like those individuals that are good at it. I am a strong believer that if you can negotiate for yourself you can negotiate for anything. And a good negotiator is the one with great confidence. But arrogance is not confidence. Confidence is a tested truth. Arrogance is a plain lie as you are afraid of accepting your weakness. And instead of working on your deficiencies you are trying to exaggerate your strengths.

Sometimes candidates do it inadvertently to impress the interviewer as they start explaining and thus missing the line of question asked. Never ever do it. You don’t need to tell what you think he needs to know. Most of the time he knows what you will tell and he only wants to confirm it. So don’t ruin it.

Interview is a first take on knowing each other in detail. You have to listen to what interviewer is asking. If you are so full of yourself than this one “I” will grow so wide and high between you and interviewer that nothing will go through it. And one other thing that will not come through that wall is an appointment letter.

4. Money merchant

All of us do everything for a better future. But if you are trying to buy everything then not many are selling. Sooner you understand this the better. The ones who speak the language of currency never understand the words like hard work, passion, challenge because they are believing a false god and this is almost a universal truth and needs no more testing.

My foremost advice to everyone out there; don’t act like a despo! It reduces trust to zero. You want to know the pay scale, wait for it. Ask for it too early and you sealed it right there. First win the trust then bargain for compensation. Wait for the interviewer to ask it out.

Its easy to point out such individuals as they try to eat every challenge tossed to them just because they want to get the money. But  interviewer can know how big your jaws are. Don’t put your utility bills over your skills too early. I have seen such individuals losing their shine once I disclose the pay less than they expected. And even if I try to drag the interview forward they don’t answer the questions. But why so less? Reason is simple, you bargained too early and had nothing on the table. First show me what you get.

Another kind of such people who ask for too much. The main reason is they skipped the homework. They don’t know about their strengths or preach them or simply they don’t have ones and going for a big bet. Remember, interview is part logic part gamble. You have to play on both ends and do well. If your pay check is adding up as company’s loss because you failed the cost-benefit test you will not be hired. So learn how to sell yourself and to do that get something that you can sell and your qualification is NOT one of such things. Remember, qualification let you enter the market and then what? Are you going to just stand there? Don’t be a beggar!

5. Not keeping promise

This is probably the worst you can do to yourself. If you promised about something and that didn’t happen e.g. you promised to bring your work with yourself as a demo and you forgot. You will instantly be flushed.

Luck favours the prepared! Have a backup plan. If the original miss fires, have an alternative arranged. For example you brought your portfolio with you but its all gone, stolen etc, have these images or files on cloud drive and ask interviewer for a little favour. Carry a flash drive with all your work as a soft backup. These days, you might be asked for a presentation so double check your hardware because if you see smoke coming out of your device its actually your job burning.

The other side of the coin is to promise about something that you will not keep. If you can’t do it, tell it straight. Don’t sow a false seed of hope interviewer’s mind. Its fruit is always bitter.

And do I need to tell you not to promise something ridiculous? I get lots of interns who want to start early at all cost and they just promise everything. For example, majority of applicants agree on overtimes and extended hours when I know you have classes to attend and an exam to prepare. Look interviewers have walked the same line years back and he knows what is possible and what is not. Nobody wants an employee doing assignment in work hours.

6. Laziness

You think Bill Gates likes them? It automatically proves that you are too lazy to get the meaning. Lazy people are too miserable to be hated. They are walking talking coffins.

Employers are hiring you to divide the workload and to achieve higher synergy with your abilities and statements like “will it not be really hectic”, “does it take long time” are painting a disaster for employer. They are conducting interviews to find that right one to whom responsibilities be given but such responses show irresponsible behaviour.

The way you enter the room, your sitting posture, your body language, your tone everything counts and matters a lot. Nothing of this should reflect the lazy inside. Have a good night sleep. Have your clothes pressed. Groom yourself so that you look one of those species not alien to humans.

7. Being negative!

In one line: Employers never buy ability at the price of character. Its too expensive for them.

Probably the only good negative is the negative charge running in the wires. But no one likes to have one negative mind ruining the environment of workplace. Its a disease that will eventually spread to others. When I hire I try my level best to pick these bugs out in the interviews. Such people are a curse to creativity, initiative, coordination and especially teams. Kick them out!

Never go negative about your last employer before prospective employer! Many do it in the name of honesty and being out spoken and if this how you define these two terms in your books then seriously you are reading the wrong ones. Never say things like “pay was pathetic”, “boss was illiterate”, “colleagues were not qualified or trained”. Even if your story is true tackle it diplomatically. Good interviewer before or after the interview will get feedback from your previous employer. Your responses should be positive enough to counter it.

Never use other weaknesses as your strengths because if you do this is probably your biggest weakness as you are a parasite that lives on dead and you will kill others for it to survive. Such people back bite, exaggerate mishaps, constantly complaining and create misunderstandings.

Never show dejection towards job description Yes! not everything will appeal you. If you are after roses expect and be ready to accept thorns too. I still remember a candidate whose friend was my employee and she said, “I feel sad about my friend sitting down long hours preparing the lectures” and that leveled everything to the ground. This comment killed three things:

  1. she is a liar! the energy she showed so far was all fake and she is after something else. Because if she is fine with this job she would have never said it. And if she is unhappy then why has she even applied for this position?
  2. she is not willing to put hard work and not going to work on my terms
  3. she will leave and with her she will take one my dedicated employee too

8. Biting this job to chew the other | Finding a job that kills time yet pays!

This is instant snap! The moment interviewer learns that you are not going to work for long and he will have to hire again after few weeks then they will simply request you to leave and call the next.

Statements like “I would like to get promoted to ____ department very soon”, “I actually wanted to apply for that position” is like throwing dust in the eyes of interviewer as he is busy in finding the right talent for the job you applied and you end up making him believe that you are not really in it. And this will crash and burn your interview in no time.

And then there is another breed of applicants. Who are looking for “activity” that not only kills time but also pays them. Read the following examples as I don’t really have to say anything about such epic failures. I have added my responses as interviewer in square brackets:

Question: Why this job?

Answer: This is one option I have until I find a better job and to gain some experience to build my CV. [Get lost!]

Question: What you like about this job?

Answer: This really helps me in getting “”””” job as I really want to build a career there. And I think you people will help me. [Yeah! like we are running a community service here not a company]

Question: Where you see yourself in next 3 years?

Answer: I will have my own business but needs capital so I am actually raising finance by finding a good paying job. [Thank you for being honest and here is a little tip; apply for a loan not a job]

3 Things you do that can severely hurt your interview

Cell phones – Double check that it is off when you are going inside. Don’t ever pull it out of your pocket. And if you do, make sure that the call you are about to attend is a job from another place because you are done here.

I had such nightmares many a times and candidates even attended calls during interview. They were never able to reach my number again. I don’t know what they were thinking.

However, politely you ask me to attend the call or how apologetic you can be afterwards I will not forgive. If you have some emergency and you can’t turn it off and expecting a very critical call, tell beforehand and explain the situation and interviewer will accommodate you.

With youngsters these are normal encounters for me. Attending calls with a hand on their mouth or even asking for few minutes of private corner to have some confidential discussion.  :: face palm ::

Sitting inappropriately – not leaving the rest, sitting on one side with one leg over the other, leaning on chair, constantly moving chair back and forth, having your head rest on your hand, arms crossed. You need some lessons on body language dear if you don’t what each of these mean.

Dressing inappropriately – wearing noisy shoes, flashy something, overly strong perfume, make up = break down, go with the ethics and culture of company. Ask for a dress code if any specific. Keep it comfortable, most of the time new is not comfortable. Have your clothes ironed. I still remember one guy who came in and his shirt was so new that I was even able to count the bends and pin holes.

This point forward…

Now if you have identified where were you wrong last time, its time to get prepared for 5 most common interview questions and why employers ask them.


  1. Muhammad Kashif

    Sir it was vary helpful for me, thank you so much. Can you please tell me the best website for interview questions and their answers? I would be very thankful to you from my heart.


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