You often hear about the top "X" things you should do for a job interview: dress nicely, bring a copy of your resume, study up on the company, ask questions, and so on. However, I've found that it's often the little things that candidates do – or DO NOT do – that tend to make the biggest impression on me. I thought it might be fun if I shared some of my past experiences with interviewing job candidates and give you some examples of things that can cause your interview to "fail":
1. Wear a really goofy outfit to prove you are "creative" – once when I was interviewing candidates for an open marketing position, I had someone show up for an interview in a denim leisure suit (this has been in the past 10 years mind you, not in the 70's). This candidate had what my family referred to as "a case of the cutes", and he thought himself quite adorable and spunky I suppose. He also wore some kind of really bright tennis shoes that I suppose he felt finished off the whole ensemble. Unfortunately, he interviewed the way he dressed. I cut the interview short.
2. Show up unannounced – I once had a candidate show up 30 minutes early for his interview, and he actually bypassed the receptionist, wandering the hallways until he found my office (the name plate gave me away unfortunately). He announced to me that he was early but thought I might want to go ahead and get started. I accompanied him back to the front lobby, and went and got him at his regularly scheduled time. I ended up cutting this interview short, too – if you think I've got nothing better to do than stop and interview you the minute you come even when you're early, you'll probably be inconsiderate as an employee, too.
3. Dress for an evening out on the town – I had a job candidate come to an interview once dressed in a blouse with a really plunging neckline. It was a shame because she was fairly bright and engaging – I just could not get past the inappropriateness of the outfit that did not even remotely match the occasion.
Anyways, I'm sure there are plenty of other things you can do to have an unsuccessful job interview – constantly interrupting the interviewer, talking about religion and / or politics, and taking your shoes off are a couple more that come to mind – but I think you get the point. In our world of casualness, you need to be "anything but" in your job interview. This saying is only a cliché because it's so true: "you only get one chance to make a first impression".