Michael Sterling

13 Hidden Ways to Fail an Interview


I think most job seekers know the basics in interview etiquette. Dress the part, do your research, prepare intelligent responses and ask quality questions. These are core elements of a successful interview.


Let’s say you nailed the basics – and still received the dreaded mail-bot auto message thanking you for your time, but stating you won’t be moving forward in the hiring process. What happened?


13 Hidden Ways to Fail an Interview


If you walked away from an interview feeling it was a success only to find out it wasn’t, chances are the interview ‘fail’ was due to one of these 13 most common hidden mistakes.


  1. Being rude to the receptionist or administrative assistant
  2. Chewing gum while in the reception area – or worse – while in the interview
  3. Smelling like a cigarette
  4. Overwhelming perfume or cologne
  5. Not showing enough passion or eagerness for the job
  6. Being too aggressive
  7. Speaking too softly or too loudly
  8. Leaving your cell phone on
  9. Wearing your Bluetooth earpiece
  10. Having an awkward (too strong or too soft) handshake
  11. Yawning/Looking at your watch
  12. Over-using words such as “like”, “you know” and “stuff like that”
  13. Ending the interview before the interviewer is done i.e. – “I’m late, gotta run.”


As a career coach and recruiter, working exclusively in public accounting, I’ve heard and seen some crazy interview blunders. Common sense plays a major role in how you present yourself.


Executive presence is also critical. In the past few weeks, I’ve focused a series of articles on executive presence and it’s impact on one’s success. For greater insight on how to build executive presence, see my articles on this topic:  Psst: You Need Executive Presence – Here’s Why;  Your Career Depends on These 11  Qualities  for Success;  Your Story is Key to Professional Success6 Sure Fire Ways to Build Your Personal Brand.


Have some interview errors to add to the list? Let me know. And connect with me on LinkedIn.


Interested in more career nutrition? Check out the Career Wellness section of the SterlingFreeman website.


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