Interviews

6 ways to blow a job interview without realizing it

interview failure

You say:

I’m not feeling challenged in my role.

They hear:

My boss is giving the most important projects to other people and there is a reason for that.

Alternative:

I have gotten everything I can out of this role and am ready for something bigger. So I am exploring opportunities internally and externally and this role sounded really interesting.

You say:

No, I haven’t had a role like this before.

They hear:

I want to get hired, but there’s a large chance I can’t do the job.

Alternative:

I haven’t had this exact role before, but it looks like the key components are A, B, and C. A and B are exactly what I’ve been doing on Project Z, let me tell you about it. C is something I’ve been working on recently and am excited to learn.

You say:

No, I don’t know much about your products – an overview would be great.

They hear:

Choosing a job is one of the most important decisions in my life and I chose not to do my homework before this interview. If you hire me to run a project, I won’t do my homework then either.

Alternative:

I looked through your website, read your annual report (if the company is public), and saw some articles about Project X. But I can only tell so much from the outside so I would love to hear more.

You say:

I am really passionate about Education (insert appropriate market). No, I’m not interviewing at similar companies – just this one.

They hear:

If I truly had passion for Education, I would know a bunch of interesting companies and be exploring jobs at several. That means I’m either lying about my passion or lying about where else I’m interviewing. Neither option is good.

Alternative:

I’ve been excited about this space for awhile. I think companies X, Y, and Z are also doing interesting things so I’m looking at companies like them as well. But I’m particularly intrigued by this role for the following reasons.

You say:

Sorry I’m a few minutes late. The traffic/train/weather/etc. was terrible this morning.

They hear:

I am not reliable. This is one of the most important meetings I will have this year and I did not plan my day to make sure I’d be on time. When you have a critical deadline, it’s 50/50 that you can count on me.

Alternative:

Barring true emergencies (family situation, car accident, etc.) don’t be late! Seriously. If your trains and traffic are unreliable, get there an hour in advance and do work at a nearby coffee shop. If you are out of town and staying at a hotel, scope it out the night before so you know exactly where to go in the morning. Attention to detail matters. If you can’t arrive to an interview on time, why should they trust that you can deliver projects on time?

You say:

No, I don’t have any questions.

They hear:

If I was curious, I would ask a lot of questions. If I cared about the work environment, the team, and the product strategy, I would ask a lot of questions. But I have no intellectual curiosity and a low bar. So I have no questions. I just want a job.

Alternative:

Ask great questions! This is part of the interview. Identify the key things that matter to this business and drill in to learn more and see if you want to work there. You don’t need different questions for every single interviewer. It’s OK to repeat your questions and get multiple perspectives from different people. It’s not OK to have no questions.

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