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Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

4 Smart Moves You Didn’t Realize Sink Your Chances in an Interview

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You have a job interview coming up for a role you’re really excited about. So, obviously, you’re going to do absolutely everything in your power to nail it.

Sometimes, however, it’s your very best intentions that backfire. You prepare for every contingency—and end up causing yourself to make mistakes you would’ve otherwise avoided.

Here’s the good news: Once you’re aware of these issues, you can be sure to sidestep them. With that in mind, take care to avoid these four mistakes:

1. Arriving Super Early

I 100% understand the importance of leaving extra time. I also get the desire to be in a five-minute radius an hour early, just because it’ll help soothe your nerves.

What I don’t understand is deciding to walk up to the office and spend that extra time there, waiting.

Remember, your interview is a rehearsal where you’re showing off what you’d be like to work with. What would your future boss of colleagues think of someone who showed up and asked for attention an hour before every scheduled meeting? (Odds are they’d be working on something else, or not prepared yet, and slightly annoyed.)


Find a place nearby to wait and show up no more than 10 minutes early. (Your car is acceptable.)

2. Making Sure Every Answer Builds on Your Resume

It’s pretty logical to think that the person interviewing you would be familiar with your resume. After all, your prior experience factored into you landing this meeting in the first place.

You don’t want to bore the hiring manager and commit the faux pas of “regurgitating your resume,” so all of your answers start from the assumption that he knows your basic qualifications and wants to learn more.

Here’s the issue: While your interviewer may’ve reviewed your resume, he may’ve read 100 others for the position. He could also be in back-to-back interviews that day—or have just been pulled in and handed your file (it happens). So, when you take this approach, he spends most of the conversation slightly confused, meaning most of your answers won’t actually land.


Add context to your answers. Start with a line like “When I was a [title] at [company], where my main responsibility was [project]…”

3. Asking Your Prepared Questions

You know it’ll made a bad impression if you respond to, “Do you have any questions,” with “Nope!” so you prepared a list the night before.

But if your questions have already been answered over the course of the conversation, it’ll count against you if you ask them. That’s because you’ll look like you weren’t listening—or like you have trouble thinking on your feet.

Neither of those are traits hiring managers look for.


Take notes during your interview. That way, you can follow up by asking about something that was mentioned earlier. It sounds like “Could you tell me more about [a responsibility they mentioned]?” Or even, “I notice you asked a question about problem-solving (or some other skill). Could you tell me more about how that would figure into this role?”

4. Ending on a “Closing the Sale” Note

Classic interview advice recommends ending with a question like, “Do you have any reservations about my ability to do the job?” or “Is there any reason you can think of why I wouldn’t be the right fit for this job?”

The idea is that the hiring manager will tell you if anything is lacking, so that you can address it and prove you’re 100% qualified.

The issue is that approach can come off pretty aggressive. It puts the interviewer on the spot—and the defensive. While this might work at a company with competitive, cutthroat vibe; it can be a deal-breaker in a more laidback environment.


Couch this question in a more supportive way by saying, “Is there any other experience or traits it would be helpful for me to elaborate on?” Or skip that one altogether and take a page from writer Marshall Darr: “Actually yeah, I was wondering what your best moment so far at [Company Name] was?”

When in doubt, remember that the interview is your chance to demonstrate what sort of team member you’d be. So, whether you’re debating when to show up, or how to answer a question, or end the conversation; ask yourself, “Would I take this approach in an important meeting?” More often than not, that answer will steer you right.

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