Top Ten Ways for an Automotive Quality Engineer to Blow an Interview

#1. Failure to show specifics. There has always been a fine line between using the word ‘I” too much as compared to using ‘we.’ There is no hard or fast rule regarding this, but it is quite simple. If you use the pronoun “I” for almost everything, it shows you are a prima donna who is not a team player. Conversely, using “We” too much exhibits a lack of personal involvement. An automotive quality engineering professional is in big trouble if they are unable to share details of personal initiative and dedication. Most interviewers will press the point, giving you one more chance if your first answer is not enough. The worst thing to do is try to bluff your way through. If you are stumped say, ” I haven’t had much experience in that area. However, I am willing to learn and do whatever is necessary to come up to speed within your organization.”

#2. Show up late without calling ahead. As a recruiter dealing with automotive quality professionals, I watch candidates very closely and try to gauge their timeliness from the to and fro that usual occurs leading up to an interview. All Quality managers and directors know the unpredictability of our business. A call on the fly explaining the situation will show the hiring manager how you will respond to a crisis when working for them

#3. Wear your favorite dinosaur tie…because you are into dinosaurs. When it comes to first impressions, every hiring manager wants to see you look the part for two situations. If you are wearing a suit, how will you look in a high level meeting with Ford? If you come in your dress down gear straight from the plant (with no time for a quick change), how will you look to people on the shop floor as you are out problem solving? Dinosaurs and Daffy Duck do not fit into this equation.

#4. Have no past bosses or managers as references. People who don’t perform well and connect with others generally don’t keep in touch with past hiring managers because there is simply no reason to stay in contact. We’ve found references are an essential part of our process because past bosses don’t lie. Remember the saying, “If you can’t say something nice don’t say it at all?” References are either genuinely excellent or non-existent. As soon as I see a candidate’s reference list of co-workers, friends and Cub Scout camp counselors when, we have a problem.

#5. Eat a snickers bar in the lobby…while having a full beard. I wish I was joking. Make sure you check yourself in the car or the lobby restroom before going in.

#6. A weak handshake followed by an inability to connect with the hiring manager. Drink a cup of coffee, get fired up or read some books on personality. If you come in like a wet dish rag, you will give the hiring manager absolutely no reason to want to put you on the payroll.

#7. Rag on your current employer. When every employer you work for was terrible or unethical, all a hiring manager can visualize while sitting across from you is the “Mutiny on the Bounty” on infinite repeat.

#8. Not having a P/S/R Chart. This is an important addendum to your resume, showing how you think and work through problems. A resume shows responsibilities and accomplishments. Get ahead by being better prepared. We will be glad to send you a couple of examples. Just go to and send us a note on the contact form.

#9. Failure to adequately accounting for past moves and not knowing your resume. There is nothing more embarrassing than to have to answer off your own resume or get something wrong. It’s only your life…HOW should you know? These mistakes are often made by people who are career job hoppers and are completely unprepared. Why are they job hoppers? If you are unprepared for an interview, how prepared will you be at work on a daily basis.

#10. Telling the hiring manager you would like to go into politics one day. When someone asks you the off the cuff question like, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Be careful about telling the absolute truth. All hiring managers aren’t really interested in what you do outside of work (except for family) since they visualize you chained to your desk 18 hours a day. Keep the answer light and tight, “You mean after I reduce our PPMs down to 0?”


These are a few of my favorites from the past. I’m going to do a part 2 with your suggestions