Open Mouth, Insert Foot – How to Ruin an Interview in 8 Easy Steps |

A mediocre interview is generally pretty easy for most people. But to really mess it up, to have a colossally bad interview, to have the kind of meeting that leaves people discussing you around the water cooler for weeks to come, well, that takes work and planning. Here are 8 easy tips for becoming the stuff of recruiting legend.

1. Insult the interviewer. There are so many ways to do this that this should really be a slam dunk. However, you want to be sure the interviewer is offended and doesn’t just write off your gaff as nervousness. One way to accomplish this is to glance around the office and proceed to disparage something that is obviously important to the person. For example, if there is a diploma from MilkShake University (mascot: Frappe), you might discuss your lactose intolerance and the various side effects caused by drinking anything with milk.

2. Arrive late with a really bad excuse. This is a variation on number 1, but allows you to go farther into the field of creativity. Convincing someone that you are serious about your really bad excuse (for example: it took longer to brush my teeth than I expected) takes practice and a fair amount of acting skill.

3. Don’t wash. After all, who doesn’t wake up in the morning hoping they will have the opportunity to spend half an hour in very close quarters with someone smelling like an overripe cesspit? The more pungent you are, the more you will inspire the interviewer to think of your time together as not merely an interview but as fodder for the next cocktail party.

4. Talk endlessly. The more you ramble, the better. In fact, you get extra points if you talk for so long that the interviewer forgets what the question was.

5. Convince the interviewer that you are unable to answer the question. This works much better if you use this tactic on the majority of the questions you are asked-especially the easy ones. For example, when the interviewer is walking you to his or her office and asks, “Did you have any trouble finding the building?” as a way of making small talk, you should stop in your tracks, pause thoughtfully, and say, “Hmmm…that’s a really good question….I don’t know…Let me think for a moment….No, I really don’t know…”

6. Ask your interviewer out on a date. You get extra credit here if you can clearly see a wedding ring and photos of kids. Bonus points if the interviewer has already mentioned spending the weekend playing with the children.

7. Inquire about areas the interviewer has not mentioned. Obviously, some things are critically important, and you should not leave the first interview without a good idea of what to expect of this company. Be sure to ask about vacation policy, sick leave, paid time off, smoking breaks, lunch breaks, coffee breaks, whether personal phone calls are acceptable and whether you can use the company computers for updating your resume.

8. Assume you are the only viable candidate for the job. By all means, take control of the interview. Just ask whether you should begin Monday or if it would be OK to wait a week.

 Judi Cogen is a Principal with J Grace Consulting and an expert in reducing unwanted organizational turnover. Her Selection Strategist Program helps companies reduce turnover and take the guesswork out of hiring by using proven conative testing and company specific analytics to select the right person for the right position. J Grace Consulting also offers Youth Strategist, a program to help 10 to 17 year old kids understand their conative attributes for more success in life and school. Learn more about Selection Strategist and Youth Strategist at You can read Judi’s blog at or follow her on Twitter at @JudiCogen.

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