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11/29/09 - What Not to Say During an Interview

What Not to Say During an Interview


By Alexi Calvo | GovCentral


The truth is most people sabotage their own interviews. Instead of putting their best foot forward, they put off the interviewer by acting cocky, unsure of their talent, having bad manners, or by simply acting weird. HR  Guru has interviewed several recruitment experts to bring you unbelievable true stories of what actually happens behind interview doors. If you want to land that new job, follow this interview advice from the interview experts:

Acting Cocky Doesn’t Help You

It doesn’t bode well for you to walk into an interview as if you’ve already been hired. In order to impress the interviewer don’t put down past coworkers or employers. When asked about the internet security policies of their past employer, a candidate was quoted as saying , “Well, it was a stupid policy anyway.” Mentioning that your former employer was dumb in any way doesn’t show how superior you are—what it does do however— is show that you bad mouth people and aren’t a fiercely loyal worker.

During an interview don’t bring up your future salary. Candidates (who were not hired) have been known to start asking for a raise before even being offered a position! We all know that you are trying to get a job in order to make a living, just try not to be so transparent. Your interviewer wants to know that you have chosen to interview at their company because of the outstanding product or service they offer not just because you need a paycheck.

Also, applicants during an interview have been known to ask, “How soon can I transfer to a better job?” and even “Can I telecommute because the drive is too much in the morning?” As an interviewee you have to remain humble. The company is choosing you and not the other way around. On the flip side you don’t want to come off as unsure of yourself.

Be Confident

Never say that you don’t know how to do something. When HR asks you about certain skills necessary for the job, rather than admitting that you don’t have a certain skill simply explain that you are a fast learner and can easily be taught. You want to come across as someone that can take on any task.

If you‘re wondering how you’re doing during the interview, fight your instinct to ask, “How am I doing?” That would be interview suicide. If you ask the interviewer for feedback while the interview is taking place it’s quite evident that you are not confident. Stay calm, bite your tongue, and continue with quiet dignity.

Finally, don’t tell the interviewer that you are willing to work for less money. This shows that you are okay with undervaluing yourself and that you are not business savvy and perhaps even desperate. If the company deems the salary appropriate for the position, take it.

Watch Your Manners

Candidates have been known to ask right off the bat, “So when do I get to meet someone who actually has the power to hire me?” This is a very rude thing to say to the person taking time to interview you. Give every person you meet at your potential employer’s company the respect they deserve. You never know who you will meet and what they can do for you. Knowing this, do not leave your cell phone on during an interview or ask the recruiter if you can leave it on since you are waiting for an important call (yes, actual candidates have asked this.) The question is what is more important, a phone call or your interview? This of course means that eating lunch during an interview is also not a good idea no matter how famished you may be.

You will be judged on everything you say. Keep in mind that the interviewer doesn’t know you and they often won’t realize when you are joking around. That said, never make racist comments. While you are at it, avoid stereotypes. Starting off a sentence with, “You know how women/men/gays/blacks/Asians/kids/old people/handicapped are…” may be offensive to the interviewer since just as they don’t know you or your background, neither do you know theirs. Be sensitive and avoid politically incorrect statements like the plague.

Never Get Too Personal

An interview is not a therapy session. The interviewer doesn’t need to know that you need to make at least $20 dollars an hour because your alimony will take half. TMI! Keep the conversation career-oriented and focused on what you can do for the company. I know it’s tempting to give your life history when an interviewer asks, “Tell me about yourself…” However, this is a trick question. It’s not open ended. Talking about how much your former boss had it out for you is indeed career-oriented— but better left unsaid. You don’t want to come off as a trouble-maker so pick and choose exactly what you want the interviewer to know about you. Don’t offer up embarrassing and self incriminating info when you haven’t even been asked for it.

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid

Did you exaggerate a little bit on your resume? Keep that to yourself. We don’t have to divulge all of our secrets. Your resume got you in the door and now you can finally prove yourself so don’t self-sabotage. Other ways to self-sabotage are mentioning that you are planning to have another child, moving out of town, have the itch to go back to school, or have any medical issues. You want to present yourself as low-maintenance and honest.

If you are interviewing at several other organizations don’t tell the interviewer. Even though you may think this makes you more desirable, it can always backfire. You don’t want to notify your current company’s HR department that you are looking for a job elsewhere unless you like the idea of walking around with a “Fire Me” sticker on your forehead. Keep your career moves to yourself and be smart about what you divulge.

Some Final Words Before You Walk into Your Interview…

Wait through the silence and lulls in your interview. You may feel uncomfortable during these gaps in conversation but if you feel you’ve answered the question, there is no need to ramble aimlessly since we know what that will get you…zero job offers. Finally, if you are asked, “What is the least favorite thing you like to do?” Do not answer, “Interview.”


Okay, off you go, Good luck!


Friday, November 20, 2009