How to blow your job interview in five minutes

strange man

You’ve been looking for the ideal IT job for weeks, months or even a year or more. And you’ve done everything right!

Your resume/CV is brimming with relevant and future-ready skills, measurable professional  accomplishments, concise and compelling language, killer keywords (bitcoin! cryptocurrency! deep learning! neural networks!), righteous references and enough personality to convey your quirky genius.

Not only that, you’ve networked, leveraged LinkedIn, and sleuthed out opportunities that other job aspirants don’t even know about yet. You’ve cruised through the initial HR screening, dazzled on the phone and now it’s all paid off with an in-person job interview.

Then, within five minutes or less, it all unravels. Because that’s how long it takes for about half of all employers to know if a candidate is a good fit for the position and their work culture, according to a recent survey by job site CareerBuilder. (Damn! And I thought that green satin cape was a deal closer!)

The online survey conducted by The Harris Poll queried more than 1,000 hiring managers and HR professionals at companies of all sizes and across multiple industries. Bottom line: “Around half of employers (49 percent) know within the first five minutes of an interview if a candidate is a good or bad fit for a position, and only 8 percent make up their mind within a half hour or longer.”

Clearly, first impressions come fast and hard. And poor body language typically is the greatest destroyer of an interviewee’s prospects.

“When asked to identify the biggest body language mistakes job seekers make during an interview,” CareerBuilder says, “hiring managers named the following”:

  • Failure to make eye contact: 68 percent
  • Failure to smile: 38 percent
  • Playing with something on the table: 36 percent
  • Fidgeting too much in his/her seat: 32 percent
  • Bad posture: 31 percent
  • Crossing their arms over their chest: 31 percent
  • Playing with hair or touching one’s face: 26 percent
  • Handshake that is too weak: 22 percent
  • Using too many hand gestures: 13 percent
  • Handshake is too strong: 8 percent

But there are many other ways to blow a job interview besides slouching or conveying the demeanor of a morose funeral parlor director. Hiring pros said interviewees actually have done the following ill-advised things:

  • Asked for a cocktail
  • Wore a Darth Vader outfit to the interview
  • Offered the interviewer pumpkins and said they transfer good energy
  • Pulled out a bag of drugs with his keys (“That’s not my bag. I’m holding it for a friend!”)
  • Broke out in song in the middle of the interview

Finally, the hiring pros surveyed for CareerBuilder identified the following as “deal killers”:

  • Candidate is caught lying about something: 71 percent
  • Candidate answers a cell phone or texts during the interview: 67 percent
  • Candidate appears arrogant or entitled: 59 percent
  • Candidate appears to have a lack of accountability: 52 percent
  • Candidate swears: 51 percent

It all kinda puts that green satin cape in perspective.


  1. Normann Aa. Nielsen says:

    All these “killers” are seen as items from the Candidate only. The article forgot that also the other part has a responsibility to act professional. I rejected one job because the CTO was flat-out lying, another I rejected because the chief architect did not believe in the success of his own product… It goes both ways!

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