Job Interviews: 25 Reasons Why People Fail Interviews


The job interview is, without a doubt, the toughest stage of the hiring process. Interviews can be daunting, and for many, the prospect of failing at this stage after coming so close to a job offer can be a significant source of anxiety.

Generally speaking, most people are no good at performing at interviews because they let their nerves get the better of them. 

Why People Fail Job Interviews

Here are twenty five reasons why most people generally do poorly at interviews. Sometimes, it’s the basic things that candidates don’t get right. This list will show you what to avoid doing to improve your chances of getting a job offer, or at least a second interview.

Lack of Planning and Preparation

Lack of preparation is the biggest, most common reason why job seekers fail to perform or impress at interviews. Good planning and preparation is the key to a successful interview. It’s important to maximize the opportunity that has been presented to you to give yourself the best chance of getting a job offer. Your resume has helped you get your foot in the door, and you now need to show why you’re the perfect candidate for the job.

Without adequate preparation and practice, you’re mostly relying on luck. But with a decent amount of preparation, you can differentiate yourself from the competition and ace your interview.

Being overconfident

Going into a job interview thinking you’ve already got the job is dangerous, no matter how qualified you might be for the role or how many years of relevant experience you have under your belt. No matter how qualified you are, there will always be someone who is more qualified than you. In a lot of cases, winning the job will come down to likability.

Overconfidence borders on arrogance, and will make you dislikable. If the interviewer doesn’t like you, you’ll have no chance no matter what your credentials look like. Always keep in mind that you are disposable and remain humble throughout.

Sharing too much personal information

When you’re eager to win someone over to your cause or make a good impression, you might inadvertently share a little more information about your private life than you should. This will not help you. In fact, it will only make the interviewer uncomfortable.

The interviewer doesn’t want to know about your kids or whether you’ve been having a really tough time. Don’t share anything about your private life, and stay well away from controversial issues such as religion and politics or anything to do with your health.

Arriving late.

This should go without saying, there’s just no excuse for being late for an interview. If you know you’re going to be late, call and reschedule well in advance. If you arrive late, you’re just not going to be able to recover from that.

Being dishonest.

This is a huge no no.  Never be dishonest about your education, skills, qualities, etc. Lying about anything – especially something important – is a huge red flag and will cost you a job offer. It is a sign that you can’t be trusted as an employee, and a sign that you certainly not qualified to work in whatever environment you are looking for.

Being rude to the receptionist.

Everyone in the job world deserves respect, and the receptionist on your way to the interview has a lot more influence than you might realize.  Be as respectful to the receptionist as you would be to the interviewer. Some interviewers will ask the receptionist how you behaved, and even if they don’t, you can be sure that the receptionist would complain about you if you’re rude to her. Be polite to everyone you meet.

Not switching off your mobile

Turning off your phone is critical.  Do it before you enter the job location, or, better yet, leave it in the car entirely.  This way you won’t have it go off in the middle of the interview. That’s just rude. It will be irritating, embarrassing, and quite possibly cost you a job offer. Keep in mind that the little things matter a lot to interviewers, especially when there’s not much to choose between candidates.

Dressed inappropriately

Dressing appropriately is important.  It’s always best to ask the dress code when you receive the call about the interview or check with someone who works there.  To be on the safe side, always dress in a manner that is appropriate to the job you’re applying for. In almost all cases, this means wearing business attire: a suit.

A dark colored suit with a light colored shirt is your best option.  Wear well polished shoes that you can actually walk in, and make sure you’re comfortable in what you are wearing.  If you aren’t it will show.

Not being confident

Not being confident is just as bad as being over confident in terms of the outcome. Employers prefer to hire individuals who are confident in their abilities. Keep in mind that if you were called in for an interview, you were invited because the potential employer likes what they have read about you.  Use that as motivation to make yourself confident during an interview.  You deserve to be here, so make sure you act like it. Don’t let your nerves damage your chances.

Not being able to explain how your skills match the position.

This shows how important it is to fully research the role before attending an interview.  You need to understand and be able to explain how your strengths, personal attributes and learned job skills is perfectly aligned with the position that you’re applying for.

Interrupting or talking over the interviewer.

Misunderstanding the question asked is one thing, but never, ever interrupt the interviewer or talk over him or her. This will create a very bad first impression of you. Remember that employers are looking for someone with strong communication skills who is able to get along with others. You need to make a strong first impression, so it is important to be courteous and respectful always.

Sounding Desperate or Overeager

There is a fine point between wanting the job and being so desperate for a job that they notice.  No matter how badly you want the job, aim to come across as a potential work colleague, rather than a desperate job seeker. Nobody wants desperate people working for them, so stay calm and cool and speak with enthusiasm and confidence.

Not Knowing Your Resume Inside Out

Since you’re the one who submitted the resume, you must understand what is on it.  You need to know everything on your resume including who you’ve worked for and for how long, the order it goes in, your accomplishments, etc.  If the interviewer is referring to something in the resume and you’re lost, that’s not a good sign.

Not Asking Good Questions

Asking good questions during an interview is critically important. In fact, this can cost you a job offer. An interview is a two-way street. It is a conversation, and asking questions keep you in the conversation. You need to engage the interviewer, and asking good questions during the interview rather than at the end can help you build rapport with the interviewer.

Asking questions also shows that you have done your research on the company and portrays you as a serious, enthusiastic and diligent professional who is interested in the company and the job. You cannot wing this one. If you ask questions for the sake of asking questions, you’re not going to fool the interviewer. Prepare a set of intelligent questions to ask.

Being defensive or argumentative

It is never a good idea to get defensive or argue with the interviewer.  If you need to defend a point, do it in a constructive way so that the interviewer understands that you’re making a correction and not arguing with him/her.  Remember that you’re there to show that you not only have the required skills to succeed in the role, but you can get along with strangers. If you come across as argumentative, the interviewer will seriously question your ability to fit in with the company culture.


Even if the interview is over, don’t let the interviewer hear you complaining about anyone or anything. This is akin to complaining on your first date. No matter how justified your gripe might be, complainers are just not attractive, and the interviewer may feel you’re more trouble than you’re worth. It just creates a negative first impression of you.

Not making eye contact or making too much.

Eye contact is a form of body language which is important during communication. It shows that you are focused and paying attention, and that you’re a good listener. Failing to maintain eye contact with the interviewer shows that you’re not really listening to what the interviewer has to say.

On the other hand, you don’t want to stay so intensely focused on making eye contact that you creep the interviewer out. If you find it a little intimidating to maintain eye contact with the interviewer, you could focus on a spot between the interviewer’s eyes. Take breaks from time to time by looking down at your resume.


Make sure you get a good night’s rest before the interview.  This will help you avoid yawning. Yawning shows that you’re bored with the entire interview process and are not really interested in the job. And it doesn’t matter whether you were up all night researching the interview. At best, it will show you don’t get enough skills and have very poor time management skills.

Note however, that if the interviewer yawns and you yawn as a result, that’s only natural and they shouldn’t hold this against you.

No Connection between Personal Style and resume.

If you have hired a professional resume writer to write your cover letter and/or resume from scratch, this may cause a problem for you at some interviews. The thing is, resume writers are strangers. They know nothing about you, your personality or thought process. If they don’t know you, they cannot incorporate who you are into your resume.

Most interviewers are meticulous with a strong eye for detail. They will have read your resume, and will be observing how you answer each question. If your verbal and thinking skills are different than is demonstrated in your resume, it will become obvious that you actually hired someone else to do your work for you, and the words you’ve used are not your own.

Writing your own resume will more likely create that all-important connection with the interviewer because it will suit your personality and from your responses, the interviewer will be able to make the connection between your the way you answer questions and your resume. You can hire a professional to proofread and enhance your resume by improving the grammar, sentence construction and checking for typos and other errors. But the original words should be your own.

Lack of genuine enthusiasm for the role.

Lack of enthusiasm is the biggest reason why the most qualified candidate fails to get hired for the position, even with a brilliant resume. Many companies end up hiring much less experienced candidates who are able to demonstrate genuine passion and interest in the job.

If you are not genuinely interested in a particular job, you cannot fake it at an interview. This is what happens when you apply for a role that you are just settling for. When you are enthusiastic about a role, you communicate better and are generally more believable. Your eyes will light up, you’ll talk with your hands, and you won’t struggle with recalling important details about the company and industry. After all, you can have all of the skills in the world, but if you don’t have the inspiration or interest, you won’t be motivated to do the best job that you can.

Not Conducting Enough Research

Not doing enough research shows a lack of genuine interest and can cost you a job offer even if you have a brilliant resume. You need to convince the potential employer that you have a deep knowledge about the industry and its most common challenges, and have really thought about the different ways you can contribute to the company’s success. Lack of research knowledge tells an interviewer that you’re only interested in getting paid.

Social Media

Social media has become part of our lives, and it is important to understand that its influence is tremendous. Even if you have strict privacy safeguards, anything you publish on Facebook and Twitter in particular can still be broadcast to unforeseen audiences.

In a recent Workopolis survey, almost half – 48% – of companies said they have turned down candidates based on what they see on their social profiles.

More than 93% of recruiters admit that they regularly check Tweets, Facebook status and Instagram photos of their applicants in order to get a better overview of people’s personality. The influence of your online presence is enormous. It can cost you a job opportunity if it’s a poor one.

Bad Attitude

If you attend the interview with a negative attitude, you have virtually no chance of being hired. One of the biggest mistake people make is to complain about their former boss or co-workers at interviews. Even if your former boss was a mean jerk, keep it to yourself. It will only make you look like a complainer and the interviewer will feel you’re more trouble than you’re worth.

Employers want to hire upbeat, positive team members. This is the attitude you need to bring with you to any interview.


These are the main reasons are why job candidates fail to get a job offer. It follows then that if you are able to overcome all of these challenges in your job search, you will be successful in landing your job dream job.

Remember that your interviewer expects to you be human and have a flaw or two, but the better the impression you make, the more impressed the interviewer will be.

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