Failed Job Interview? Unveiling 8 Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

By: Joe McDermott | Updated: 14 June, 2024
Go to Blog Home Careers Interview Advice

Failed job interview

Are you failing at interview and wondering why? In this post we look at the most common reasons candidate fail at interviews and we give you some top tips on how to overcome this and get the job you want.

Keep in mind that the reasons why candidates fail at job interviews can be many and varied. Quite often this is related to the interview performance, to perhaps answers which are not strong enough or do not contain enough detail. Perhaps you are missing an essential skill. Irrespective, we know from our coaching practice that you can overcome these challenges and succeed.

Get Your Target Job Faster With InterviewGold

Accurate questions, brilliant answers created for you, expert advice and much more. 92% success.

In this article:

  • Why You Might be Failing at Interviews
  • Reasons for Failing Interviews – 8 Common Mistakes to Avoid
  • Top Tips to Help You Overcome Failed Job Interviews
  • How to Recover From Failed Interviews
  • How to Boost Confidence For Your Next Interview
  • Social media and job interviews
  • Get Your Target Job Faster With InterviewGold

Why You Might be Failing at Interviews

Failing a job interview could be as simple as not providing sufficient information.

Perhaps you have failed to blow your own trumpet about your great experience.

Some people clam up at interview and are too shy or nervous to wax lyrical about successes they’ve had in their career to date.

Having your key achievements, knowing your strengths and what you bring, will really help. In particular if you can align these with the required competencies such as teamwork, communication leadership even better.

In our coaching practice one of the most challenging aspects is answering competency based interview questions and scoring top marks. We see so many clients who are unable to summarise, to highlight the most relevant experience or even choose a good example to talk about.

Reasons For Failing Interviews – 8 Common Mistakes to Avoid

1. Lack of interview preparation:  Try to get someone who is experienced at interviewing candidates to help you by doing a mock interview with you. Try to talk to people in similar industries and jobs and get their take on what the interviewer might ask or look for in you as a candidate.

2. Lack of clarity in your interview answers:  If you are unsure exactly what the interviewer is asking or is trying to elicit from you, ask them about the context and if they can rephrase the question.

3. Providing weak answers: If you absolutely do not know the answer to a technical question, say so. Honesty is to be admired and is often refreshing. It demonstrates that you will put your hand up and ask rather than say nothing and make mistakes. You can also add that you’re willing to learn and explain why you haven’t had experience in this area. It’s perfectly acceptable and understanding for an interviewer to discover that you don’t know everything about the job or the organisation, after all, you may not have worked there before.

4. Providing poor examples: Poor evidence of your past experience can result in failure. When asked about your relevant experience it is best to paint a picture and illustrate your answer with real life examples of where you have worked well in the past and any successes or improvements you have implemented.

5. Disrespecting your current or previous employer:  Never bad mouth your current or previous employer or any of the employees. It comes across really badly and sounds like sour grapes. It also says so much more about you in a negative way than it does about your previous workplace.

6. Providing irrelevant information: It is extremely important when being interviewed to be concise and direct and to provide relevant information. Fight the urge to waffle and try to ensure that the question is answered succinctly. If you forget the question, ask to be reminded again and ask for confirmation if you have answered the question to their satisfaction.

7. Being overqualified: If you apply for a job for which you are over-qualified, a recruiter may believe rightly or wrongly that you may leave at the first opportunity when you find something more challenging which fits your skills. It’s important to pre-empt this fear and reassure the interviewer that the post you have applied for is the post which you would commit your skills and talents to.

8. Being under qualified: This can present its own challenges. A recruiter will want to protect their own interests and choose the most suitable candidate. If you are under qualified this will obviously present doubts that you are capable of carrying out the demands of the role. One way to allay these fears is to use other scenarios and experience, be this voluntary work, family management roles and general personality traits which demonstrate that you would indeed be capable of the role. The interview provides a golden opportunity for you to convince the interview panel that you have what it takes. Take on the challenge and knock their socks off by matching your experience outside work to their job criteria.

Get Expert Interview Answers in Minutes

STAR Interview Questions and Answers

Join InterviewGold and get expert answers created for you in minutes including brilliant STAR examples and all tailored to your target job.

Top Tips to Help You Overcome Failed Job Interviews

Failing interviews on more than one occasion can have a devastating effect on your confidence.

This is particularly true if you are long term unemployed and already lacking in confidence in your abilities. It’s important to remember you are not alone and many have failed interviews before you. In fact, many interviewees will have faced similar problems before.

Here are some top tips on how to recover from job interview rejection.

How to Recover From Failed Interviews

Get Interview Feedback

Getting feedback from the interview process can be very enlightening. Often it can provide detailed areas where you did well and enables you to see areas which you need to improve. It’s a real confidence booster to get constructive feedback which enables you to improve your performance and build on areas where you perform well.

Reflect and Analyse

Take time to reflect on the interview. Identify areas where you felt confident and those where you struggled. Constructive self-critique can highlight specific aspects to improve for future interviews. It’s important though to do some analysis of your interview performance and take stock. One of the ways of doing this is to take notes during and after the interview and then try to remember what you said for each question. This performance analysis and can really reveal why you have been unsuccessful.

Consider Your Answers

Think about your answers, do you feel they were sufficiently strong and detailed? If not, then review and edit to make them better for next time.

Enhance Your Skills

Identify skills or knowledge gaps that may have impacted your interview performance. Consider taking courses, attending workshops, or gaining relevant experience to strengthen these areas. Review also skills that are missing from your CV, and which may be essential to the employer. Look at ways to close these gaps through training and gaining experience.

Practice Your Interview Skills Regularly

Engage in regular mock interviews with friends, mentors, or career coaches. Practicing responses to common interview questions can build confidence and improve your ability to articulate your experiences effectively.

Stay Positive

Maintain a positive mindset and avoid dwelling on the setback. Treat the failed interview as a learning experience and an opportunity for growth. Remind yourself that each interview is a step closer to finding the right job.

Success is born out of rejection, and some of the greatest and most successful people had very high-profile rejections at interview. Stay stoic and plod on, there’s definitely a position out there with your name on it. Quite often, opportunities which slipped past you were not appropriate anyway and you may well discover later that you may have dodged a bullet and wouldn’t have been happy there anyway.

Moreover, there’s no better candidate than an experienced candidate, so the more interviews you do, the less you will care and the more thick-skinned, confident and competent in performing you will be come.

How to Boost Confidence For Your Next Interview

Be Fully Prepared

Nothing beats proper preparation in advance of the interview. This will get you ready practicably and emotionally. Be clear about the essential requirements of the role as outlined in the job description. Consider any gaps in your skills and have a clear explanation of how you are closing them.

Know the Employer

Make sure you have researched the organisation and any potential competitors. Get a feel for the business environment in which they operate so you can understand the challenges, threats and opportunities and risks and bring your skills and experience to these.

Be aware of an organisations raison d’etre, why are they in existence, what is their mission statement. These days there’s really no excuse for a lack of research and it’s easy to get a feel for the organisation through their social media channels which easily help you find out how they tick.

Be Clear About Your Goals

Remember, an interview is as much an opportunity for the candidate to decide if the organisation is right for them, as it is for the organisation to decide if the candidate is right for the job. Consider how the post fits in with your career goals and be ready to discuss these in the interview.

Social Media and Job Interviews

A word about social media. If you were an employer, how would you screen candidates? It doesn’t go without saying that you should lock down your social media and be extremely careful about the type of content you post on your personal page.

If you’re being interviewed for a driving job and you’re pictured on your Facebook page with drinks in hand on a Sunday night in the wee small hours before work, it’s highly likely a savvy employer will have googled you and seen such personal photos of you which could prove your downfall however innocent they may seem.

You may wish to consider editing your social media accounts during your search for employment to ensure that you have nothing on your page to be worried about.

Get Your Target Job Faster With InterviewGold

InterviewGold online training

InterviewGold is the leading online interview training system. When you join you get everything you need for successful applications and interviews. Accurate questions, answers created for you, expert advice and more.

About InterviewGold

12 months access only £79 • Get Your Job • 92% Success
About the Author |
Joe McDermott is CEO of Anson Reed the UK's leading interview coaching specialists and founder of the successful InterviewGold online interview training system. Since 2006, Joe and his team of top interview coaches have helped thousands of clients win jobs and in this blog they offer their expert advice - all to make sure you get your top post.