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5 Ways People Bomb Job Interviews (and What to Do Instead)

At one time or another, we’ve all had an interview (or several, if we’re honest) that went terribly wrong. Many people bomb job interviews for great opportunities simply because they are underprepared

Even when we dressed the part by wearing professional slacks, classic neutral colors, and minimal makeup — we’ve bombed it. Even when we came prepared with copies of our resume in hand and a rehearsed firm handshake — we’ve completely messed it up. Even when we’ve answered every question to the best of our ability — we’ve missed out on a job offer.

Basically, interviews sometimes go wrong. Even the best of us can fail.

I’ve bombed interviews in the past, just like pretty much everyone else. Out of my failures, though, I’ve learned a whole lot about how to be better prepared and a stronger candidate for interviews in the future.

I’m sharing common interview mistakes with you so you can be better prepared. The best part? The ways I’ve bombed interviews are really easy to turn into successes.

5 common ways people bomb job interviews — and what to do instead:

1. They don’t research the company.

I’ve done this before. Gone into an interview completely unprepared and walked out feeling like a fool. You might be thinking, “wow, is this girl crazy? Why didn’t she research the company first?” Yup, it’s a rookie mistake.

In the past, I didn’t take the time to research the companies I was applying to work for. I didn’t know when the company was founded, who worked for them, or in some cases what they actually did. Silly, right?

Always take time to research a company you’re applying to work for. Look into specific details, such as:

  • when the company established its roots and its history
  • who the CEO is
  • how you can help support their overall brand, goals, and initiatives
  • what current projects they are working on
  • recent press releases

Research goes a long way, especially when the interviewer(s) asks you questions about the company. You’ll want to be prepared to supply correct answers. Showing you’ve researched the company demonstrates your commitment to the job. Learn from my mistake on this one, peeps!

2. They don’t come prepared with questions.

Another ridiculous mistake I’ve made was attending an interview without questions in hand. When the interviewers asked me if I had any questions, my face was red and I felt embarrassed.

Coming to an interview with questions is absolutely essential. Why? Because an interview is just as much about you interviewing the company as it is about the company interviewing you. You need to know if the company is good fit for what you’re looking for.

Ask questions about:

  • workplace culture
  • how often performance reviews are
  • what the typical hours of the position are
  • what skills would make a candidate successful in the role you’re applying for
  • how they see this position growing over the next year
  • what additional skills are essential for this position
  • what expectations they have of you

You want to rest assured that the company is a good match for you, just as much as you’re a good match for them.

In the past, when I didn’t ask questions, I wasn’t really certain if a company was a good fit for me. My mistake and I definitely bombed the interview because of it. Don’t make the same error!

[clickToTweet tweet=”7 Questions to Ask During a Job Interview” quote=”7 Questions to Ask During a Job Interview”]

3. They don’t come prepared with salary ranges.

Sometimes we attend interviews where the company does not share the salary range for the position. For a variety of reasons, some companies will ask you to supply your salary requirement.

While negotiation is extremely important if/when an offer is made, it’s equally important to come prepared with salary research on your own. I’ve made the mistake of not having my salary requirements ready, and it was embarrassing. I came off as unprepared — not a good look for a job interview.

When the interviewer asked me how much I was looking to make, I said nothing. Why? Well, I wasn’t sure how to answer the question because I didn’t have an amount in mind. I stuttered and fumbled over my words, which shot my confidence and made me look inexperienced. Don’t make this same mistake, friends.

Negotiation tip: As a classic negotiation tactic, it’s important to have them say a number first. What may be a high number for you could be a low number for them and in the end, you’re the one who will leave money on the table.

There are some savvy ways to at least do you research before going into salary negotiations:

  • Check Glassdoor to see what similar positions are paying
  • Ask your friends or colleagues in the industry for feedback on a salary range (e.g. for “x” position with “x” job requirement, would you say “$x-$y” is a fair range?”)
  • Come prepared ahead of time with practiced phrasing (Tori has exact scripts you can use here)

Come prepared to every interview with an idea of how much you want to earn if you are offered the job. Whether it’s $35,000/year or $25/hour, be sure you have a strong handle on what you are looking for. The company may have a set range they did not disclose, so be sure you know what you’re willing to accept.

4. They didn’t send a “thank you” note post-interview.

This mistake honestly embarrasses me the most. In past interviews, I’ve made the rookie mistake of not thanking interviewers for their time.

Not only is this terrible form in the professional world, it’s also extremely rude in day-to-day life. Always be thankful. Always thank someone for a birthday gift, fixing your car, or an interview.

Being gracious is a tactful skill and it goes really far. When I didn’t thank interviewers for their time, I felt guilty about it. It’s so easy to drop a handwritten note in the mail or even send a thankful note via email. I’m not saying my lack of a “thank you” note lost me the job, but maybe it did.

I’ve since learned to always send “thank you” notes. It’s good form and a good way to live. Thank the interviewers for taking the time to meet with you and for considering you as a candidate. It’s such an important skill in the job-hunting process. It may even set you apart from other candidates. Just do it, friends!

Get our free thank you note template guides here.

5. They aren’t confident in their abilities.

One of the most important skills to maintain during an interview is to radiate confidence. From the moment you walk into the room to the time when you leave, you need to be completely and absolutely confident. Shake hands with confidence, speak with confidence, and own it.

I’ve made the mistake of not being confident, and if I’m being honest, sometimes I still lack confidence. During interviews, I’ve definitely had moments where I felt inexperienced, unprepared, and utterly unqualified for the job I was interviewing for.

Well friends, as they say, “fake it ’til you make it.” You need to act confident.

Even if you mess up on a question, or forget to bring your portfolio with you, or any other possible ways to bomb an interview, at least pretend like you’re confident. Put on a big smile, speak slowly and confidently, and own the interview. You get one shot to impress the interviewer(s), so make it count! First impressions go a long way and you could easily bomb an interview if you seem unsure of yourself.

Interviews are scary. They are intimidating, mostly because we have to put ourselves on the spot. Interviewers will ask us questions about our educational backgrounds, professional experiences, skills, personalities, and how we respond to pressure. All of these questions may make us feel awkward or uncomfortable. It’s important to push our doubts aside and completely own the interview.

Always come prepared to an interview. Research the company, bring questions to ask, memorize your salary requirements, send “thank you” notes, and be confident. These are common mistakes interviewees make that could cost them the job.

Our goal is to help you avoid bombing an interview. But if you do, learn from your own mistakes. We all continually grow. Every interview is an experience. Try to learn from them, even if they don’t go the way you planned.

Have you bombed interviews in the past? Share how in the comments below, so we can learn from you!

About the Author

Rachael Warren (Tulipano)

Rachael is a University of Southern Maine graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Sociology. She remotely works full-time as a Senior Content Marketing Specialist for Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. In her leisure time, Rachael enjoys traveling with her husband, finding the next Netflix series to binge, and taking too many photos of her dogs Jax and Kai. Rachael is obsessed with chapstick, favors the Oxford comma, and is a proud Mainer. You'll likely find her exploring New England + beyond.