Interviews are stressful and everyone wants to say the right thing, but knowing what NOT to say is just as important. You won’t always be able to give a perfect response to the question an interviewer asks you. However, you can avoid saying things that really hurt your chances of getting a callback.
1. Profane or Crude Language
You might think that this is obvious but many of us are used to dropping the occasional curse word into a conversation. You might be complaining about the temperature in the room or reacting to a bunch of papers slipping out of your folder. It might not be on purpose but your interviewer will hear what you say. Do your best to keep things PG and try to put yourself in “interview mode” while you’re in the waiting room. Keeping this in mind will help you catch yourself before you say something you will quickly regret.
2. Complaining About Your Previous Job(s)
If you’re asked about your past work experience, you should reply with what you learned any useful experiences that you feel make you qualified for the position. Don’t talk about the people you didn’t like or how much you hated your old boss.
Nobody likes a whiner and it can often paint you as someone who always looks for the negatives in a situation. Since the interviewer doesn’t know you well, they won’t be able to decipher your complaints. They might assume that you’re someone who’s difficult to manage or someone that blames management for their own poor performance. Similar to the start of a relationship, employers want to hire someone that doesn’t come with a lot of baggage.
If asked directly about what you didn’t like about your previous job, give short and concise criticisms. It’s usually better to have a list of these things ready beforehand so that you don’t need to come up with something on the spot.
3. Saying You Haven’t Found Your “Passion” Yet
Telling your interviewer you haven’t found a job that is “the right fit” won’t do anything to help you. Your interviewer will immediately think to themselves “why would this position be any different then?”
Employers are looking for people who will stick with a company and not leave after a few months. Employee training is expensive and time-consuming; the company is investing a lot into your training and they want a return on that investment. An employer might reject a resume simply because there are too many previous jobs listed.
Ultimately, the interviewer is looking for someone who they can invest their time into and reap the rewards for many years to come. Don’t ever give them a reason to think that you will be a waste of their time.
4. General Questions About The Company
Never ask your interviewer a question that you can just as easily find the answer to online. Asking “what does your company do?” or “where is the company located?” is a sign that you didn’t research the company ahead of time.
It’s important to spend time preparing and then asking questions which will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of the company. Your employer will be able to tell if you have done your homework. Asking meaningful, well-researched questions shows the interviewer that you are really interested in the position. Asking a very broad question will make them think you’re just throwing in an application.
In short, you should spend some time preparing for the interview ahead of time.
5. That You Prefer To Work Alone
When you start a new job you will be joining a team of people. The word “team” is very important because you will be expected to work with other. Having good communication skills and a friendly personality are two things that every employer looks for in an applicant.
Being a “lone wolf” doesn’t impress anyone and is often a red flag to the employer. You might have had bad teams in the past but you will always need to work with people regardless of what career your pursue. Don’t give the interviewer any reason to think that you’re difficult to work with.
6. Spinning Weaknesses As Strengths
When asked what you consider a weakness about yourself don’t reply with “I work too hard” or “I care too much”. An interviewer wants to see some humility from an applicant. We all have weaknesses and being able to realize what they are so that we can make them better is important.
Don’t try to take something like “being a perfectionist” and spin it as a flaw about yourself won’t impress anyone. Your interviewer wants to see if you can look at yourself critically and evaluate your real strengths and weaknesses.
7. Saying You’re An Expert
If you’re applying for an entry level position chances are you’re not an “expert” at anything. While you might have a particular skill and be able to do it will — you are far from being an expert. Showing that you interested and excited to learn more is far more appealing the boasting about how good you are.
It takes a lot of time to really master something and no good employer will expect someone to be a guru after only a few years of experience. This is especially true for college students who are just starting out.
8. Personal Or Intimate Questions
So you’ve probably heard a few people say that an interview is like going on a first date (we did earlier in the article). However, this does not mean you should treat the interviewer like a date. Asking them personal or intimate questions is inappropriate and can really hurt your chances of getting a callback.
Worse yet, you might ask a question that could really offend them. Could you imagine how embarrassing it would be to ask someone if they have grandchildren if they aren’t even married yet?
Ask questions about their time with the company and keep them professional.
9. Overusing “Like” and “Umm”
Do your best not to use filler words such as “like”, “umm” or “aah” when talking with your interviewer. They make it sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about and make you sound less confident. Worse yet, the interviewer might think that’s how you usually talk, leading them to think you have bad communication skills.
Your interviewer is looking for someone who’s confident and has well-developed communication skills. When you’re answering the question they’re not just listening to “what” you say but also “how” you say it.
10. Questions About Vacation Policy
You should definitely take a company’s benefits into consideration when deciding on a job. However, at least during the first interview, you should avoid WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) questions. You don’t want your interviewer to think that you’re already thinking about time off. They’re hiring you to make the company money, grow the organization and, more importantly, make their lives easier. Don’t make your interviewer think you’re already thinking about getting out of work.
11. Not Asking Questions
This is kind of a double negative but it’s important to actually ask questions during an interview. Interviews are a two-way street and you should be trying to learn as much about the company as the company is trying to learn about you. When you ask your interviewer an insightful question it will make you stand out from other applicants.
The company wants to hire someone who’s passionate about the company and interested in working there for a long time. If you don’t ask any question then your interviewer might think that you’re just throwing in an application and not really that interested. In short, asking the right questions during an interview can really help you stand out from other applicants.
12. Your Entrepreneurial Ambitions
Being an Entrepreneur is great, but you need to realize that you’re applying to work for someone else. Talking about how your ultimate goal is to start a company isn’t going to help you get hired. Remember that employers want to hire someone who’s going to be around for a while. It’s great to talk about how you’re a self-starter but you might not want to mention that you’re trying to get funding for your startup. If there is any suspicion that you’re just trying to collect paychecks until you can leave the company and do your own thing, then you’re not getting the job.
13. Apologizing For Being Late
Let’s keep this simple: don’t be late! Even if you have to leave an hour early to get to the interview on time then do it. There is nothing worse than making your employer think you’re not punctual. A good rule of thumb is to always consider yourself late if you’re not 10 minutes early.
14. Pointing Out All Your Flaws
A bit of humility and the ability to look critically at yourself is a great quality. However, you should not point out every negative aspect of yourself to the interviewer. Saying things like “I know I’m not a good fit but…” or “I know I don’t have any experience but…” will probably do more harm than good. If the interviewer doesn’t ask you, then just don’t talk about it.
15. Asking When The Interview Will End
If you’re applying for a job that you really want then you should clear your schedule. Don’t plan to meet a friend an hour after the start of the interview or give yourself any other time constraints. If the interview was meant to last 30-minutes but turns into a 90-minute interview — that’s great! It means that the interviewer is really interested in learning more about you. Asking the interviewer when you’ll be done send the wrong message and could prevent them from asking some questions that could have helped you get the job.