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It would be great if interviewers made emotionless decisions about potential new recruits but we don't. As sensory creatures, we assess in seconds and rely on intuition and even instinct to guide us. Unfortunately, our finely tuned diagnostics, like the person sitting in front of you, can be wrong.

For years, I've sat on interview boards and watched many good candidates perish on their own sword. They didn't need to.

From experience, here are 10 things a candidate should never do at an interview. Of course, it would be just as easy to write 20 and I'm sure you can add lots too.

Be Late.

Candidate: "You won't believe it but the pet Panda ate my Bus Pass and I'm so sorry I'm late"

Interviewer: "You're right. I don't"

Outcome: You're already 10 metres behind the start line in the 100 metre race.


Candidate: "When I was with them I was responsible for the new sales strategy"

Interviewer: "Funny that, I was a consultant to them at that time but we haven't met before, have we?"


Candidate: "Yes, I'm very familiar with your company"

Interviewer: "Prove it"

Outcome: The simplest first test about a candidate is that they know the story behind the headlines. If you don't, you just read billboards.

Not Know Yourself

Candidate: "I'm a self-motivated, results driven, ambitious, focused person"

Interviewer: "So what makes you different?"

Conclusion: Know what makes you more attractive than the rest and talk about what you bring not who you are.

False Flattery

Candidate: "I'm such a huge fan of your company"

Interviewer: "How come you know so little then?"

Conclusion: Flattery will get you somewhere. The door.

Irons in the Fire

Candidate: "I'm considering several options"

Interviewer: "So why are you available?"

Conclusion: Keeping your options open will lead to keeping your options open for the foreseeable future.

Superficial Charm

Candidate: "Oh I do agree with you. Yes, yes, yes. I really do agree"

Interviewer: "Are you comfortable challenging a superior?"

Conclusion: We need opinions not sycophants.

Bad Body Language

Candidate: "Oh he is a really nice guy"

Interviewer: "But he fired you. We checked?"

Conclusion: We understand human imperfection better than sainthood.

This is Really Important to Me

Candidate: "This is really important to me. It's my goal and focus"

Interviewer: "Sarah, at Reception, said to wish you luck in the 3 interviews you have later today. She couldn't help hearing you on your mobile"

Conclusion: We need smart observant people to work here.

Noted Questions

Candidate: "No thank you, I have no questions"

Interviewer: "So this job is important to you?"

Conclusion: No it isn't.

©Conor Kenny & Associates

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