Let’s be real. You go on an interview to make a good impression, get the facts and land a job offer to consider. You usually don’t go with the intention of tanking it. Sadly, that’s often what happens.

Jobseekers, beware and behold the top 10 ways to tank a job interview:

10. Dress to distress. Cliches be damned; they are what they are. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Your attire and general presentation should be consistent with the industry you’re targeting. Do everyone a favor and brush your teeth. Avoid eating foods that follow you long after you’ve left the table and by all means, wear your deodorant. Skip the heavy cologne and keep the bling-bling to a minimum.

9. Be fashionably late to the interview or call to reschedule at the last minute. You might get away with being late or being a no-show on a social level. In the professional leagues, particularly with potential employers, the practice just doesn’t fly. Plan to be on time, meaning five to 10 minutes early. Call to reschedule only in a true emergency, explaining the dire circumstances. Sound sincere.

8. Talk down to the employees who you happen to meet. Go ahead. Show the secretary no respect and you can expect the same in return. Power and influence are funny things. They don’t always rest with the person with the biggest job title. Be nice to those you meet on your way up the ladder of success. They could be the same ones you meet on your way down.

7. Assume familiarity too soon. Unless you are already on a first-name basis, don’t call the interviewer by his first name. You’ll only look like a wannabe if you do. Wannabes stand out, but for the wrong reasons.

6. Be clueless about the company. Clueless candidates don’t impress. Do your research before you show up. Find out everything you can about the employer, the job and its future needs.

5. Answer your cell phone when it rings during the interview. You may be the proud owner of the newest 3G You-Phone, buy you should turn the silent mode on before you go to the interview. You don’t need to get a call from your current boss while you’re trying to charm another one into hiring you.

4. Elaborate too much when asked the “tell me about yourself” question. You might be the most interesting guy out there but don’t try to convince the employer of it within the first five minutes. Answer this classic starter question with a quick overview of your professional experience and avoid the personal data.

3. Ask stupid questions. So tell me, what does your company do? What position are you seeking to fill? What color is the sky today? You get the idea. Don’t waste their time or yours by asking questions you already know the answer to in the first place.

2. Bad mouth your last boss. Yup. No doubt about it; he was a jerk of monumental proportions. Let it go.

Avoid bad-mouthing him in front of a potential employer at all costs. If you don’t, you will look childish and be written off as someone who can’t play well with others.

And here it is. .... The best way to tank the job interview:

1. Exaggerate your accomplishments and qualifications. A tiny little word added here that changes a meaning. It can be so easy to make a mountain out of a molehill. Keep your reality in check. You are who you are. Don’t try to be someone else unless you want to risk explaining yourself.

Janet Farley is the author of “The Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide” and “The Military Spouse’s Complete Guide to Career Success.” Her column appears monthly in Stars and Stripes. She can be contacted at

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