Four Mistakes That Could Cost You a Job

You expected a job offer. You knew you interviewed well.  The interviewer shook your hand when you both stood up, said “great interview,” and chatted with you on your way to the elevator.

Then, the form letter rejection.

Would you like to know what you did wrong that cost you a job you almost landed? After four decades of helping clients hire employees, here’s a list of eight common mistakes interviewees make, including the one that might have happened on your way to the elevator.

The interview isn’t over until it’s OVER
I’m always surprised by what applicants say to the receptionist as they leave or when chatting with interviewer on the way to the elevator.  I don’t know what you might have said to the interviewer when you chatted enroute to the elevator, but one of my clients reported to me that an interviewee confided to the receptionist on his way out, “It would be so exciting to work here, I’m planning to open my own small business in this area.” Oops, which employer wants to hire a short-timer or a new employee who might spend evenings, weekends, lunch hours, and perhaps work hours launching her own business?


  • “Sorry I’m late; there was a lot of traffic.” What? You can’t arrive on time on a day when you’re on your best behavior?
  • “It’s been really busy at work, you you say when explaining why you didn’t take time to review the employer’s website in preparation for your interview. You may get warm empathy, but not the job.
  • “Sorry,” you say as you gesture toward your jeans. “It’s casual Friday at our work.” So, you’re excusing the fact that you’ve showed up under-dressed for an interview? What else might you excuse, once hired?

Overly rehearsed or non-answers

When asked the stock interviewer question, “What are your weaknesses?” you answer, “I don’t really have any.” This leaves the interviewer thinking you don’t know yourself well. Perhaps you’ve rehearsed a “good” answer such as “I’m so committed to my job and employer that I take my work too seriously.” Now you sound phony. And don’t try, “I have a hard time with others who aren’t motivated.” Not only didn’t you answer the question, which was about you, but you come across as a finger-pointer.

“I don’t like to say much,” you say, “but there were some serious ethical issues with my last employer.” You’ve said enough, and now the interviewer wonders, “Will you be saying negative things about us in six months?” “I’d rather you don’t call my current supervisor, we don’t really get along.” So who’s the problem, you or the supervisor?

Boring the interviewer
You love talking and ramble past the interviewer’s attention span, until the interviewer smiles overly broadly to cover how fast she’s ushering you out of her office.

Foul language.
Don’t cuss. Enough said.

Asking, “Do you know when we’ll be done here?” Let us not keep you.

My family comes first
Of course, but we’re not asking about life priorities, we’re focused on the workplace – and if we hire you, will you be? If you overemphasize work/life balance, your interviewer may admire your priorities, but you won’t get the hiring offer.

© 2020, Lynne Curry

Lynne Curry is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016) and “Solutions” (both books are rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Send your questions to her at or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10.


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