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What NOT to Say In a Job Interview
Let’s play Would You Rather for a second: job interview or dental work with no novocaine? I know, it’s a hard question.
Job interviews can feel like you’re walking this strange tightrope: be confident, but not cocky. Excited, but not frantic. Professional, but not stuffy. You want to impress your interviewer: express your qualifications, ask good questions, and follow up flawlessly. And then there’s those landmines you need to avoid. As someone who has gone through their fair share (and is actually kinda starting to like them *gasp*), I’ve got your back.
1. “I know I don’t have the experience”
Cue your hiring manager saying, “Well, okay then! Bye!” This question immediately makes you seem inexperienced (even if you are) and unqualified (even if you are.) The last thing you want to do in a job interview is make the recruiter’s “no” easy. Here’s how to land the job, even without the necessary requirements (and yes, it’s easily doable.)
2. “I really need this job”
Don’t beg. Even if you haven’t worked in months, have exhausted that emergency fund and are feeling seriously worn out, telling the interviewer you really REALLY need this opportunity comes off as desperate and unprofessional. Leave the opening number of “A Chorus Line” for your bathroom mirror.
3. “I don’t have any weaknesses” OR “My weakness is working too hard and caring too much”
I don’t know about you, but I just groaned OUT LOUD. If your potential employer asks you, “What is your biggest weakness?” you cannot answer you don’t have any. You just can’t. You’re not Beyonce — you’ve got weaknesses. Now, that doesn’t mean you answer: “Sometimes I have to just eat the whole bag of potato chips, I’m possessive and clingy in a relationship, I bite my fingernails…” But you need to have a honest answer that shows you’re constantly striving to improve. Here’s my actual answer: “I have the tendency to take feedback personally because I put a lot of myself into my projects, but it’s something I’m actively improving.” You always want to showcase you’re not perfect, but that’s it’s something you’re conscious of and excited to work on.
4. “I hated my last boss/job”
No matter how much of a disaster your last job situation was, you shouldn’t mention it in an interview. Keep things professional, and never bad-mouth the company or people you were employed with before. If you’re asked, “Why are you leaving?” or “Why are you looking for work?” don’t lie, but highlight something that contributed to your negative feelings. For example, if you’re leaving because your boss wasn’t mentoring you and committed to your success (in other words, a sucky boss), say: “I didn’t see a clear path for growth and development at my job, and both of those are very important to me.”
5. “Who’s this?”
When the recruiter has introduced themselves via phone, you should recognize the company’s name. I can’t tell you how many times the recruiting team at my work has complained about candidates being confused and then asking, “What, who are you?” There’s nothing worse than getting a call from the company, and you having NO recollection that you even applied. It makes you look unorganized and foolish. If you’re applying for a bunch of jobs, keep a spreadsheet — and anytime you get a call from an unknown number, consult the sheet before picking up to save you major embarrassment. And if you want a better solution, only apply to positions you’re actually interested in; those are the ones that will stick in your mind.
6. “I’m the best one for this job.”
News flash: EVERYONE thinks they’re the best one for the job. You wouldn’t be applying if you didn’t think you had a shot at landing the position. I’ve read a few blog posts lately that advise to go in and say something like this. But what can sound confident to your ears can sound cocky to the hiring manager, so I would afford phrases like this altogether. Let your incredible interviewing skills, experience and resume do the talking, and say, “I’m excited to have the opportunity to show you what I can do,” instead.
7. “This isn’t my first choice”
Ouch. Well then, you’re not OUR first choice. Why anyone would say that in a job interview, I don’t know, but it happens. Even if the job isn’t on the top of your radar, that’s the last thing a recruiter wants to hear. Don’t ever be THIS ambivalent — totally unprofessional and rude.
Any other no-no phrases you can think of? Join the conversation on social or in the comments below!
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