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Four Ways to Completely Botch an Interview

Heather | February 24, 2011

Unfortunately, there are more than four ways to completely botch an interview and ruin whatever chance you had at getting that internship or entry level job. Way more.  However, in my very first interview, I was guilty of four in particular, so they have sort of stuck with me. I had applied for an internship with a publishing company that went out of business or was bought out, or something that resulted in it becoming a book distribution company. This new company called me for an interview, and I proceeded to make many, many mistakes. If you’d like to make as big as mess as I did on your next interview, follow these easy steps!

If someone from the company calls to schedule your interview, make it as difficult as possible for that person. My interviewer had to suggest several possible dates before landing on one I could make. While I gave her the reasons I couldn’t make the dates she suggested (Note: your interviewer will not care if you have a dentist appointment), I didn’t suggest any dates myself, and made the conversation way longer and more awkward than it had to be.

1.) Make Scheduling Difficult

2.) Show Up Late
I got in about ten minutes after my scheduled time, which, trust me, was not early in the day. My excuse? I overshot my train stop. Don’t let that happen to you. Plan to arrive early. Check the location on a map, and plan your trip ahead of time. It’s better to get there way early and sit in a Starbucks for ten minutes than to show up late for an interview.

3.) Show No Interest in the Company
During the interview, I never took my coat off. I had no idea what the company really did. I had no questions. Truthfully, I was a little thrown off by the fact that I was interviewing at a different company than the one I had applied for, but there was a lot I could have done differently. I could have taken off my coat in the lobby instead of sitting there awkwardly like I was ready to bolt at a moment’s notice. I could have done at least cursory research, and at the very least, I could have asked questions. Asking questions shows you’re interested in the job and in the company like nothing else.

4.) Assume You Have the Job
After a super short and not amazing interview, something made me think I had gotten the job. I asked my interviewer when I should let her know whether I would take it or not, showing her that not only was I presumptuous, but I wasn’t really excited about the internship. She said she would call me, and she never did.

Of course, after this experience, I have had many other interviews for internships and for jobs, and all have been better than this one — some even resulting in me getting hired! The upside of an awful interview is that it’s a great learning experience for future, and often far better, interviews. What are your interview stories? Share them in the comments!

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Category: Internships, Jobs

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