6 Ways To Secretly Sabotage Your Job Interview

Do this, not that—and the job you've been chasing could finally be yours.

We know that a job interview is a lot like a date—and like that other courting process, initial excitement can wear off quickly, leaving you feeling like one George Oscar Bluth, Jr.:

But how can you know if you've arrested your career development? LearnVest editor Carrie Sloan has a few ideas:

1: If You're The Last Interview Of The Day

Consciously or not, hiring managers average out their ratings of applicants over the course of the day—so you want to be the first one in.

2: If You Talk Way Too Much

"Talking over your interviewer is the biggest mistake that interview candidates don't realize they're making," career development coach Stacey Hawley tells LearnVest.

Interview jitters cause the un-gift of gab, she says, leading candidates to talk over their interviewers. That nervousness nips any chance of active listening, making for a boring, one-sided conversation—the kind that doesn't lead to the interviewer investing in you.

3: If You Trash Your Old Job

No one wants to hear how much your last job sucked. But if you are going to criticize your last gig, sketch out the organizational roadblocks that led to dysfunction—as we've noted before—rather than carping about how much you hated your boss.

4: If Your Cover Letter Sucks

The cover letter primes the interview. Hawley, the career coach, says that a cover letter should link your stellar work history to the potential gig and show how much you know about the company and how you can enhance it—without, we may add, being a boilerplate career recap or weirdly direct confessional.

5: If You Negotiate Like A Galoot

We tend to get anxious around salary talks when they come up, Hawley says, which can lead us to blurting out our best guess (or hope) of potential pay.

A better play is to let an open-ended inquiry like "What range do you have in mind?" hang in the air and wait for them to answer, she says—and doing your compensation research ahead of time will help, too.

6: If You Don't Follow Up

No matter how qualified you are, the person that hires you is still doing you an act of kindness. To help get you there, Hawley says to follow up with a personal, non-formulaic note or email—another sign of how graciousness is a part of a growing career.

HR Experts Confess: 8 Biggest Interview Mistakes We See

[Image: Flickr user Scott Hendo]

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50 Comments

  • Gerard

    I keep RT your stuff, which means you're doing a good job (I guess). Kudos.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, do compensation research in the specific industry! Don't go in and say, "Well, my last job made $X, but that was full-time. I've never worked part-time, so I don't know how much that would translate." Then, when pressed, ask for an outrageous sum that you would only get if you were a full-time manager in that industry. Be aware if you're applying for entry-level positions, then don't ask way, way above the industry's average. That just shows you haven't done your research. And you'll be screened out.

    Don't apply for part-time jobs when you're really looking for a full-time job. It wastes both the hiring manager's time and your own time. You won't get a call back and you'll be screened out of the second round of interviews.

  • TrappedInScranton

    Regarding point #1 about being the first interview of the day, if the company is interviewing several candidates over several days, what's the best position?  I tend to think that the candidate is better off being one of the later interviews because she will be fresh in the interviewers mind.  I'd love to know your thoughts on this.

  • Gabriel

    I went to job interview recently, it all seemed flawless, fluent and I would say almost perfect. We reached the part when they ask if I had a question, and ask them about the pay. Two hours later I wrote them asking to withdraw my application. Why? Because I am kind, but not so much as to give them my services to profit from, for such a low price. It was not negotiable, so it would be pointless to make a deal.  In this days employees need be active partners, not mere cows grazing in the paddocks waiting to be milked.
    To the article writer: Dig a hole please, and bury your head in shame.

  • patriot923

    The reason America is going down is because of HR people like the one who wrote this article!! Hiring or even interviewing is an act of kindness???

  • Philip Wattis

    I really don't agree with big chunks of this, and I have been on both sides of the table.

    1/ Last Interview of the day - They average out their scores? Really? Why would they do that? If I've had a day of mixed interviews and the last one turns out to be a star, it doesn't matter what I have scored anyone else. The star wins it.

    4/ Your cover letter sucks. This is important, but if your cover letter sucks then you are not going to even get an interview, let alone have the chance to mess it up.

    5/ Negotiate like a Galoot. I had to look that word up, and then found the suggestion as to how to negotiate a little 'galootish'. A good negotiator will create an anchor and get the other person to move towards that. By asking the other party to state 'their range' you are handing them an immediate advantage.

    6/ Follow up. Yes, do follow up, but you know what? If you were the best candidate on the day, they will contact you. If you are trying to get the job by harassing them into submission then you'll have a constant uphill battle.

  • Firas

    Excellent subject,but I believe that all of those causes have no effect if the hiring manager is in bad need for you!

  • CocoaButterLover

    This article should be titled "How to sabotage your writing career"

  • reymalahay

    @DrakeBaer, I am a firm believer in point #3. But if a former employer draws first blood after an employee is walked out the door, then by all means that former employee has every right to hit back. That was what happened with this particular organization http://bit.ly/YBRHHi

  • Phil

    You should be fired for writing this garbage.  And linkedin should be slapped in the face for directing me to this site.

  • Me

    Act of kindness?  Someone showed you kindness by paying you to write this garbage.  Don't believe what you read on the internets people!

  • Jennifer Loesch

    Yes - I see a few that really resonate - the biggest complaint I get is the "candidate talked too much" , second to that would be trash talking your old company - the best way to handle the question on why you left the company is to start with "I" and keep it simple and move on... nobody wants drama and the managers can see it right away in an interview  and call it a red flag.

  • Gary

    I must a agree with the others regarding "an act of kindness". You definitely do not want to work for a company that feels your employment is "an act of kindness' and haven't we all had that experience,

  • Bill

    I have never been swayed one way or the other by either a cover letter or a thank you note. As a hiring manager, I care about your resume and your performance during the interview.

  • Daneo311

    Are you kidding me? No employer hires you out of "an act of kindness" anymore. Does the author even know we are in a highly competivive job market or has he been living under a rock?

  • Who hired you?

    I can't even begin to say how stupid your article is. Except for the Don't talk too much bit, everything else is crap. If hiring or even interviewing is an act of kindness, why the hell do they even have businesses. For every dollar the company pays me, they end up making about 10-20, so who is being kind here?

  • Jay Oza

    Interview is a two way street.  There has to be an alignment.  It is very important that the interviewer is on top of his game and really tries to sell the position rather than resort to "take it or leave it" attitude.  

  • Nathaniel

    I'm going to have to agree with the consensus about the "act of kindness." You are wholly wrong Drake. I helped a younger friend recently redo his resumé and coached him on his interview technique, and had to remind him not to be distracted by his current employer's negotiation to move him from 24 to 40 hours a week, as if it were a bargaining chip. A job interview is the prerogative and responsibility of a hiring company, the more candidates they interview the better their odds of finding a well suited employee. And the job itself? It's a completely professional, mutual exchange of assets. The company pays you to use your skills to work. Don't let yourself be a charity case, or you're going to end up under-compensated.

  • Psthibodeaux

    Good points!, however I do have to point this out just because I am tired of this false mentality when you say  "No matter how qualified you are, the person that hires you is still doing you an act of kindness".  I never understood the mentality of the one that hires is greater than the one that is hired.  This is a 50/50 relationship.  It benefits both parties equally.  Yes I'm grateful you chose me to hire, but you should be grateful I chose you to work for. 

  • Mister Eeze

    The person hiring is obviously in the power position - they hold the thing which the other person wants.  Yes it's an exchange of value, but it's a not a balance of power.