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  • Cy Tidd

8 Surefire Ways to Bomb an Interview

I do a lot of technical and behavioral interviewing for my job. I’ve experienced some whoppers from the interviewer’s side of the table. If you want to blow an interview, here’s how you do it.


The ability to say “I don’t know” is one of the most undervalued traits in the world. It saves lots of people from doing dumb things. But there’s always someone who thinks, I don’t know = I’ll just copy and paste something off the Internet.

Here’s the thing with copying stuff off the Internet: we have the Internet, too. We probably got the question from the same site you’re looking at.

If the plagiarized work has typos, feel free to copy those. And the test cases, too, copy those as well. You’re saving yourself work and you’re saving us from hiring you.

If you do this and you get caught, companies will probably not tell you. They’ll just not hire you. Ever.


Again, say “I don’t know” if you don’t know. If you feel like lying to someone, the probability is high the person asking the questions knows more than you do. Who’s going to ferret out you’re blowing smoke? Someone who knows more than you do. But please, keep babbling nonsense.

You can say, “I’m not sure, but can I take a stab at it?” That’s allowed.

Keep lying after getting caught

By all means, keep making things up on the spot after we point out the last thing you said makes no sense whatsoever.

Even better, start arguing about the bogus position you just conjured out of thin air.

Give vague answers

Give us an answer that means nothing. No specifics. We could be talking about the weather. Or maybe you found some business jargon website and you’re stringing random words together.

In other words, don’t ever get down to brass tacks. Don’t talk about the details. If asked, make something up about a non-disclosure agreement or say something foolish like “that’s classified” when there’s no mention of government work on your resume.

It’s all about your team

This one is tough but torpedoes a lot of people. If you want to bomb an interview, keep using the royal “we” when asked about your work. “We made the deadline” or “we pushed back on the requirements.” It’s all about your team and not about you.

Here’s the thing: we’re not hiring your last team. We’re trying to figure out if we want to hire you. What did you do? How did you contribute?

It’s all about you

Don’t give anybody any credit. It’s all you, all the time.

This is the pendulum from “it’s all about your team” swinging in the opposite direction. Don’t mention how your team helped you out or how you helped them.

It’s a balance. We want to know how well you work with others. If it’s all about your team, then you did nothing of importance and/or nobody trusts you. If it’s all about you, you’re a jerk, a cowboy (or both) and nobody wants to work with either of those people.

Be sexist, bigoted, or discriminatory

You will likely have no idea you’re doing it. We’ll get you talking and then you’ll say some doofus thing like, “I hope I don’t have to work with <insert some group>, they have crappy work ethics.”

Be a jerk to an opposite-gender interviewer by questioning their intelligence, constantly interrupting them, and assuming they haven’t just found a mistake in your coding exercise. We love it when you do this. We love it because we know immediately to skip over you.

Think you know everything already

Ask no questions. Even when asked if you have any questions, just shrug. We love it when you aren’t interested in anything about the job, the culture, the opportunities, people you might work with, or better yet, your potential new boss. We think it’s great when your energy level is the equivalent of “meh”.


Do one or all of them

Please, by all means, pick a favorite off this list and try it in your next interview. You’ll save us a bunch of time by letting us know we don’t want to work with you.


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