6 Ways to Shipwreck Your Interview

By David Smith

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Clearly, there is a mountain of available information on how to prepare for interviews, what questions to ask, how to prepare  examples of all your key competencies, as well as the traditional trawling of the company website and social media feeds – All valid!

No amount of preparation will help if, during your interview, you sail too close to these jagged rocks!  So, for want of a better way to introduce these 6 points…’Land Ho!’

Poor Personal Appearance

First impressions last!  Of course, there is no need to invest in a Saville Row suit and if you are currently out of work, then new togs may be out of the question. Clean and Smart, which means shirt, tie and trousers for men and blouse, skirt or trousers for women, clean and appropriate shoes for both [broad discretion allowed here!!]

If you’re looking for instructions on ‘Power Dressing’, you need to look elsewhere.  Sticking to the basics…think ‘Business Meeting!’


Bad Mouthing the Boss

Your last [or current] boss may be the sole reason why you need a change, but during an interview with your [hopefully] new boss is not the time to mention it. It certainly isn’t professional to recount the perceived personal failings of someone and the interviewer may well see it as a ‘red flag’, signs of a potential dissenter, so when asked for the reason for change – steer clear of this shallow water.



At the crucial ‘do you have any questions?’ point during the interview, the answer is never ‘No…I think I have everything I need?’ or even worse ‘When do I start?’ [that’s just plain cocky!] There are many areas you could focus on:

  • The in-house training programme
  • The developmental opportunities that may be available
  • How performance is measured

Avoid salary and benefits, holiday entitlement and absenteeism policies etc. Focus on demonstrating enthusiasm for the role…a desire to get stuck in! 

Finally, although you want to be as relaxed as possible, you do not want to give the impression of being passive or indifferent.



Arriving late to an interview is tantamount to throwing a grenade below deck, the outcome is pretty inevitable and usually involves lots of floundering with a significantly reduced likelihood of reaching your destination in one piece.

Plan carefully, give yourself more time than necessary and take change for the meter.  If you arrive late without an extraordinarily good reason, I don’t know what to tell you!


Keep It Together

Believe it or not – the interviewer would really like to enjoy the interview, so do your part.  If you come across as timid, edgy, nervous and sweating, looking at your shoes the whole time, the interviewer may wish the process were over quickly.

Maintain good eye contact, draw on your preparation with confidence and try to relax.  If you are able to hold it all together for 45 mins to an hour, you should be OK and you may well stand out in the interviewers mind…for all the right reasons!


Ducking and Diving

No-one is squeaky clean! There could be points during the interview where things get a bit choppy.  Very likely, you know the areas that could get rough and could make you feel a bit green around the gills. We could be talking about a dismissal years earlier or a gap in the CV, or even an excellent Degree that has been lying on the shelf for longer than anticipated.  Rather than hoping the panel doesn’t go there…be ready for it, make it a part of your preparation to answer the tough questions.

If you’d like any more information or want to connect on Twitter or Linkedin – look forward to engaging with you!


Image Cecelia | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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