How to Bomb an Interview (in 3 easy steps)!

I spent the weekend in Buffalo, NY on my 2nd graduate program interview. I am confident it went well, though that is no guarantee of acceptance. After a very positive experience at this program, it got me thinking about my first interview for a grad school (which was just a week before this past one). It also became glaringly obvious how awful I did. This is no exaggeration. It was horrendous. I’m a very personable individual, and I’m also very confident in my ability to communicate my strengths, weaknesses, and any other information about myself. I was wonderful at this; perhaps a bit too wonderful. In retrospect, I spent very little time being friendly (or even smiling for that matter) because I was so preoccupied with portraying myself as a professional and work-oriented person. Following the interview, I realized how little the ‘real’ me actually participated in the conversation. I was interviewing for what I thought they wanted, not who I really was. As I said, this occurred to me shortly after the interview, and became really apparent after my Buffalo interview, during which I was committed to stop this “acting job.”

Regardless of the outcome, I have looked at that first interview as both a wake-up call and a learning experience. I believe it took these mistakes in round one to be successful in round two. But to help those of you out there who would prefer never to make a mistake at all, or perhaps to make the worst mistakes in the books, I present to you three easy steps to bombing your first interview:

1. Don’t even think about smiling.

By not smiling, you communicate to your interviewer that you’re neither friendly nor interested. This is the first, and perhaps one of the most important steps to bombing your interview. Employers want to see a mature yet personable individual. While they often take their power to hire extremely seriously, a program is usually looking for someone with a bit of spunk too. Someone who can smile has an immediate advantage. If you’re looking to bomb, this is an advantage you’re not interested in. So keep your happy thoughts and positive verbalizations to yourself. They won’t do you any good for this cause. [Bonus points for a frown.]

2. Don’t prepare.

The prospect of improvising your way through an interview sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Even if your people-skills are the best in your league, this is another great way to turn an interview into a disaster. If you wanted to ace the interview, you’d do your research on the program or workplace and prepare solid responses to typical questions. But since you’re looking to bomb, use it as an opportunity to work on your acting; pretend you know what the program does, and try even harder to explain why you’re wasting their time.

3. Appear disheveled.

If the company and/or program was worth being a part of, they’d accept you no matter what you dressed or appeared like! Professional attire is for the sucker, right? Wrong. Pat yourself on the back for being a fool (if that’s what you’re going for). Your attempt to stick it to the man will most likely assist in your journey towards the big ‘bomb.’ Employers want to see someone who takes themselves and the interview opportunity seriously. To them, your initial behavior during this interview is a direct reflection of both your attitude about your work and your maturity. By not showering for a week, waking up, throwing on sweats, and hopping in your car to the interview, you’re sure to screw up big time!

Congratulations! You’re well on your way to bombing your interview. The rest will come naturally if you’re foolish enough to follow the first three steps! Good luck, and never forget to stick it to the man (if you want to live in your mother’s basement for the next decade or two)!

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7 responses to “How to Bomb an Interview (in 3 easy steps)!

  • Stephanie

    I gotta say, interviews take practice. Have you tried doing mock interviews? I know that those can really help. I got a better idea of how I was coming across and what I was doing wrong.

    Also, while you were in Buffalo, did you get to enjoy their delicious food? I loved all the restaurants we used to go to there.

    • Eric

      Unfortunately I missed out on mock interview opportunities as an undergrad. I think in time I’ll fall into my interview style; that first one was rough though. =P

      In Buffalo I stayed with friends who are undergrads, so I got a taste of their life. We ate mostly fast food, but also ate at University Hots and Amy’s Place. And on Saturday night we went to SoHo on Chippewa. Familiar?

      How long did you live there for? That weather is rough!

  • Teacher Girl

    Haha! I love your ability to laugh at yourself and learn from your own mistakes. As Stephanie said, interviews take practice. We all either do mock interviews or bomb a few real ones before we get it right. The key is that you realized and corrected your mistakes. And honestly? I am sure it was not nearly as bad as you thought it was! You seem like a very charismatic and nice guy. I cannot imagine you completely bombing the interview.

  • Deidre

    I’ve had 10 interviews for jobs and I bombed the 10th one…you want to know the key for failure? I’ll only tell you if you promise not to tell Inspector Climate, he’d kill me…

    Promise?

    I couldn’t figure out why I got an interview, because I wasn’t qualified at all for the job…like at all. and after the 5th question when they’d asked me something I had no idea how to answer because um, not qualified, and my brain was searching for yet ANOTHER eloquent way to say ” I don’t know, but I am brilliant” I just spat out…”Look, to be honest, I am not sure why you called me for an interview at all”…they were not amused.

    • Eric

      Hahaha this actually made me laugh out loud. You should write this story down (I tend to record things like this in writing). You AND Inspector Climate will be laughing about it in due time… once he finds out, that is! (not by me, of course) =)

  • Sarah

    I know exactly how you feel! I’ve been going through pharmacy school interviews, and at this point I’m pretty sure I bombed my first one as well. Such a bummer, since that school is my first choice. C’est le vie, right? Good luck with your applications! I hear it’s hard to even get an interview for graduate psych programs, so congrats on making it this far!!

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