How to Screw Up a Job Interview

Last Updated Jul 10, 2011 4:55 PM EDT

How to Screw Up a Job InterviewIn the age of media-overload, it's easy to find a ton of good advice from career experts on how to handle a job interview.

Just about every reputable site's got at least one writer with tremendous experience. If I was pounding the pavement looking for a job, I'd hang my hat on BNET's Evil HR Lady, Suzanne Lucas, but that's just me.

With all that expertise at your fingertips, there's still one thing you can do to royally screw up your chances in a job interview. It saddens me to say that an awful lot of you are doing it, and that's listening to bad advice from someone with limited or no experience.

For example, you might be one of the thousands who read 20 Ways to Ruin Your Chances During A Job Interview by Business Insider's fledgling managing editor, Jessica Liebman.

Don't get me wrong. I think it was really nice of Liebman to offer advice from her vast array of hiring experience as a managing editor for "nearly a year." Hey, another year like that and I figure she can be a managing director at Korn/Ferry or VP of HR at Google.

Not that any reputable business site would run a post with an eyeball-catching headline just to get 400,000 page views. Come on; nobody does that, right?

Besides, where in the world would job hunters find a gold mine of stunningly superficial and subjective advice from someone who, until a year ago, had probably never interviewed, hired, or managed a soul?

Just check out what may "ruin your chances during a job interview" with Liebman at Business Insider:

  • "Don't come in a half an hour early. It makes me feel pressure ..."
  • "Don't bring your own cup of Starbucks coffee to the interview ... it will make me jealous that I don't have one."
  • "Don't touch your face or twirl your hair ..."
And those are just the first three; there are 17 more where that came from. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up. Even worse, there's some - no diplomatic way to spin this - really bad advice:
"When I ask you what websites and publications you read, don't say The New York Times. Everyone reads the New York Times. Be creative."
So, what's the message here? When you're asked a question of fact, don't be honest; make stuff up so you'll sound creative or interesting? Wow; you're kidding, right? And by the way, I don't read the New York Times, but I guess everyone else does.

And while it is a good idea to ask at least one question at the end of the interview, I don't agree that "it should be more creative than, 'What's the culture like?'" I actually think that's a fantastic question to ask ... and to know the answer to before you take any job.

Look, I love Business Insider for its edgy commentary, among other things, which is why I frequent the site. But they really should take this sort of thing more seriously or stick to over-the-top satire, at least until the unemployment rate is safely in the lower single digits.

I think it's great that BI is growing and hiring. But when an editor writes, "It annoys me if I get [a thank you note] one week later" or "Don't send me a cover letter email that's more than one paragraph long. I don't want to read about your childhood," well, it comes across as sort of condescending.

So, if you need advice on anything HR - including interviewing, of course - do yourself a favor and get it from an expert, like Suzanne Lucas's Evil HR Lady blog. Great advice and she's nice about it, too.

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Image: hardleers via Flickr