What Not to Say in an Interview

  | James Innes

Whatever your private opinions, there are some things that should never be said in an interview and which, if discussed, will cause the interviewer to raise an automatic red flag against you. Getting an interview can be difficult in itself sometimes, without throwing away any chance of getting that job.

These are some of the common mistakes that candidates make.

1)      Discuss salary and benefits.

Whilst this may be a prime motivation in seeking a job, the interview is not the place to discuss these – unless the interviewer raises the topic themselves. Otherwise you give the impression that you are focused on what the employer can do for you, rather than what you can do for the employer, Wait until you have got the job before you discuss salary, benefits and vacation allowance.

2)      Bad mouth their current/previous employer.

Even if you hate your current boss or company, never denigrate them in an interview as it reflects badly on you. People are not going to hire somebody with a negative attitude who complains. After all, if this is what you say about your last employer, what are you going to say about us if we hire you?  Better find something positive to say, or focus on what you have learned in your current job.

3)      Ask what the company does

Too often candidates go into an interview without doing basic research as to what services or products the company they are applying to actually does. This is an automatic disqualifier. If a candidate has not even bothered spending a little time researching a potential employer, which should they waste any more time on you? How can you possibly know if you would fit in if you have no idea what you would be doing?

4)      My Biggest Weakness is …. I am a Perfectionist or I Work too Hard

Avoid these typical answers because they are just that – typical. Employers know that not only are such phrases are meaningless, but they have probably heard them are a hundred times before.  Instead focus on one weakness – such as delegating to others, speaking to large groups, paying attention to detail - and identify what steps you have taken to overcome it.

5)      Saying I Don’t Know

Candidates should avoid saying “I don’t know” in an interview wherever possible. Instead, they should offer to research the answer to a question and come back to the interviewer at the end of the day (a tactic that, at least, keeps the engagement going between hirer and candidate). Alternatively, if asked a hypothetical question such as “how do you fit an elephant in a fridge?” your response should demonstrate your thought process. How big is the fridge, what size is the elephant etc.?



6)      Not to ask questions

At the end of virtually every interview, the hiring manager will ask the candidate if they have any questions. Not preparing a list of two or three key questions indicates passiveness and a lack of interest. A survey, quoted by James Innes in The Interview Book found that 29% of recruiters cited candidates not asking questions – or asking poor questions – was a reason to fail them.

Avoiding these common mistakes along with absolute no-nos! like using swear words or slang will improve your chances significantly of impressing the interviewer and getting a job offer at the end of the day. Which is the whole point, after all, of putting yourself through the interview trauma?

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