There are hundreds of ways to ruin an interview, but here are 15 that are dear to me, or that candidates have pulled on me in the past.

  • Show up late
    • It’s inexcusable. Drive there the day before to make sure you know you can get there in time.
  • Be unprepared
    • Your first assignment at this company is to show up prepared. Don’t fail it.
  • Smoke, or smell like smoke

  • Have bad breath or body odor

    • Nobody wants to smell your smells. Eradicate them.
  • Shake hands like a fish
    • Don’t shake hands with a death grip, but don’t wuss out, either.
  • Come underdressed
    • If you find yourself asking “Do I have to do X?” for the interview, play it safe and do it. That means wear a suit.
  • Speak ill of anyone, especially past employers
    • If you complain at the interview, you’ll complain all day at work, too. No boss wants to deal with that.
  • Complain; discuss your problems
    • Your boss has his own job-related problems to deal with. He doesn’t want to hear about yours.
  • Bring up your needs, such as money or benefits
    • Your interview is all about what you can do for the company, not what they can do for you.
  • Lie
    • You’ll be found out, and you’ll be worried about it until you are.
  • Appear uninterested
    • No boss wants to hire someone who doesn’t care about the job she’s going to be doing.
  • Fail to ask your own questions
    • The best way to show that you care, and that you have a mind for business, is to ask your own questions about what you’ve discussed during the interview.
  • Appear desparate
    • Enthusiasm is one thing. Desperation is another.
  • Leave your phone on
    • There’s no way you could be expecting a call that’s more important than this interview.
  • Cut the interview short
    • Allocate adequate time for an interview. A longer interview is always better, so plan for the good. Don’t try to squeeze in an interview on a long lunch hour. Make sure your kids are adequately covered and you don’t have to say “Sorry, I have to leave, my sitter can only keep my kids ’til 4:00.”