As recruiters, we try to account for every possible contingency that might arise during the course of an interview. Unfortunately, there are simply too many variables that come into play in such a format, and every so often a planned meeting that appears to be a sure thing evolves into the missed opportunity of a career. Here are some fantastic ways to turn that smiling face on the other side of the desk into a gargoyle in no time at all.


1. Look for any way you can to annoy, insult, or otherwise put off the office administrator. More than one person has told me that after each interview they make a beeline to this person’s desk to determine if the potential candidate has the ability to order a hamburger without throwing a sugar packet at the waiter. This is one of those seemingly innocuous steps in the process that can have unforeseen consequenses if errantly approached.

2. Wear a particular clothing ensemble that would be fantastic for a day of digging clams, a Phish concert, or bucking up the tree that fell in the backyard. Extra points if this is done despite the fact that your recruitment professional made a specific goal to buttonhole the employer regarding what his basic expectations are and relayed this information to you well ahead of time.

3. Shoot for a spoken word to heard word ratio of about 1500:1. Wonder why they are looking at their watch 15 minutes of the conversation was hijacked.

4. Make certain to let the interviewer know how much you wish your current/former employer would be audited, succumb to scurvy, or suffer any form of indignity that would be forever immortalized on the internet.

5. Bring up the subject of money immediately after you shake hands with the person conducting the interview. Very few things excite a company more than a potential team member who clearly has little more on his mind than how much he will make and how soon the options will fully vest.

6. Jokingly let the interviewer know that your Ivy League degree has more cachet than his Ivy League degree. Yes, this actually happened. Egos were bruised and the words “arrogant” and “no way” came up.

7. Conduct a near perfect talk and forget to let the person know that you are truly interested in the position. It took only one individual to let me know that they were excited to move ahead with the hire, but they were unfortunately not clear as to whether or not the feeling was mutual with a particular interviewee. This person was indeed entirely excited about the opportunity but did not convey it well. I now make certain that all candidates know this is an absolutely essential interview component to address.

8. Following what you feel was a poor performance, hop in your convertible, peel out in the parking lot, and fishtail your way into traffic. Find out later that the company wanted to hire you but the CEO just happened to be looking out the window at the time you made your exit. Once again, a true story.

9. That Facebook post you made about the quality of hallucinogens in Belize? Keep it available to the public.

10. That text message that just came in? Answer it.