5 Surefire ways to fail an interview

Jul 26, 2011 at 3:30 p.m. ET

Think you're an expert when it comes to job interviews? Think again. If you haven't yet landed the job of your dreams, it may be because you're committing one of the worst interview mistakes. Found out what they are.

1Late business woman checking watchShow up late

First impressions may be everything, but you can make an impression on your possible future boss before you even walk in the door. Most career advisors suggest you arrive for your interview 10 to 15 minutes early. To be on the safe side, plan on getting to your destination 30 minutes early. That doesn't mean you have to walk in the door half an hour before you're supposed to be interviewed; it does mean that if you're at the front door with time to spare, you've got a chance to relax and prepare. Before you step inside, go over your talking points, like what are the three most important things you want your prospective employer to know about you? Besides, better early than late. Walk into an interview tardy? You've lost the job before the handshake.

2Don't dress the part

What's the best interview outfit? It all depends. Do your research before the interview and find out if this place of business does it jeans-casual or if they all wear skirts and suits. The key to your wardrobe dilemma is figuring out what ensemble will look like you fit in as an employee. If you've got your heart set on working at a certain company, spend 15 minutes hanging out across the street to see if you can figure out what your potential coworkers are wearing on the job. Jeans and sandals or heels and a dress --  it all depends on what their uniform is.

Related: Don't make these mistakes at work >>

3What research?

One of the biggest pet peeves of HR managers and interviewers alike is a candidate who didn't do her research. The person interviewing you has a job to do and they've taken time out of their day to focus on you -- make it worth their while. Many interviewers will seek to figure out immediately what you know about their company. Google the company before your meeting. Search Glassdoor.com for the inside dirt on companies from those who have worked there or interviewed there already. Scan LinkedIn for the company's latest hires to see if you fit the company profile.

4Ask no questions

Flattery will get you everywhere, and if you make it clear you know a great deal about where you'd like to work and you're interested in learning more, interviewers will perceive that you're a serious candidate who wants to know if this position is the right one for her. While interviews can make you feel like you're the one asking for a favor -- getting hired -- you're better off coming across as slightly detached. Be passionate, but also make it clear that this meeting is not only about if you're a fit for them. It's also about if they're a fit for you -- so feel free to ask your interviewer about the job.

5Forget to close

It's not enough to show up. You've got to take this interview to the next level. If you feel like this job may be a match, it's up to you to make that clear and pilot your exchange along a glide path that will get you hired. As your interview comes to a close, underscore that you appreciate the time they took to interview you, briefly reiterate why you would be an asset to the company and ask what your next steps will be. Follow up the next day and repeat until the job is yours.

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