Category: Career Advice
Published on Friday, 28 April 2017 00:00
Written by Cheryl Teo Kai Lin
There are many articles out there on the web advising job seekers on the things they should say in job interviews, but not what they shouldn’t say. Many candidates blow their chances of getting a job for the extra information they provide that really tick off interviewers. Here are 15 things that you should NOT say during an interview.
1. “I left my previous job because the environment was toxic/my boss was too demanding.”
“Don’t complain about your current position or employer,” says Vip Sandhir, CEO and founder of employee engagement platform HighGround. “I want to hire positive people, and it’s an immediate red flag if someone is too critical during an interview.”
“The interviewer doesn’t know you very well and it’s hard to decipher if you may indeed be a large part of that drama,” says Gianna Scorsone, senior VP of marketing and sales operations for Mondo, a tech and digital marketing recruiting firm. “Employers want to hire someone who comes with no baggage. Much like a relationship, when first meeting someone, you try and identify red flags. Avoid this at all cost.”
“Talking negatively about your current job raises a red flag that you might be difficult to manage, or someone that blames management for their own poor performance,” says Warren Webster, president and CEO of fashion and lifestyle brand Coveteur. “And I can’t help thinking you might be interviewing somewhere else in a couple years saying the same thing about us.”
Complaining about your previous job will lead the interviewer into thinking that you are a spoilt and entitled whiner who can’t handle different work environments and expect others to conform to you. Just keep the street adage “snitches get stitches” in mind. If you have to explain why you left your current job on such a short notice, put a positive spin on it.
2. “It’s so fucking hot outside.”
“Most of us drop the occasional f-bomb, but during a job interview is never the time or the place,” says Lucinda Ellery, founder of beauty brand Lucinda Ellery Consultancy.
Other than the obvious expletives, you should refrain from using the tamer ones too such as “damn”, “shit”, “hell” and etc. Keep your speech PG and professional with the interviewer until you are out of the office.
3. “I’ve moved around in jobs because I haven’t found the right fit/I’m not challenged enough.”
“This will make the interviewer immediately think to themselves: ‘Why would this role be any different? They’ll probably leave here in six months,'” she says. “Also, this begs the question of what type of relationship you have with your manager. It doesn’t sound like open communication where you express the need and want to take on more with solutions at hand. Ultimately, a manager would love someone who can self-sustain and enable growth through being proactive, strong in follow-through of work, and brings ideas and solutions to the table.”
A statement like this may make you seem aimless, indecisive, vapid, uncertain and lost.
4. “What does your company do/where is your company headquartered/?”
“You should have done your research before coming through our door,” says Fingerpaint Marketing founder Ed Mitzen.
Suzanne Silverstein, president of contemporary clothing line Parker, agrees: “Never ask basic questions about the company you are interviewing with. It’s important to spend time preparing and then position your questions in a way that will allow you to get deeper answers. If you have done your ‘homework,’ you will impress and will have a more meaningful interview.”
The onus is on you to research about the company prior to the interview. The general rule of thumb is if you can answer your question with a simple Google search, don’t ask it. You will come across sounding like someone who is ill-prepared and not very well informed.
5. “As a manager, I pretty much work alone”
“When discussing your current role, if you are in a leadership or managerial position, never take all the credit for accomplishments,” Silverstein says. “Emphasize your team and how, through their talents, your vision is being realized. Most successful leaders know that they are only as good as their team, acknowledging this in an interview will go a long way.”
Unless you literally are the only person in the company, do not say this as it may come across sounding extremely conceited and that you do not give others credit where credit is due.
6. “My group was just like a startup, but inside a big corporation.”
“I get the point, however no corporate experience is really like a startup, especially one that is boot-strapped,” Webster says. “Saying this proves that you don’t really understand the realities of a startup environment.”
7. “What is your vacation policy?”
“This question shows me you are already thinking about taking a break,” says Mitzen. “We want workhorses that will make our company stronger, not those thinking about the beach on day one.”
8. “Sorry, I’m not very punctual.”
“Anyone that doesn’t have the discipline to show up on time (or early) isn’t someone we will trust with our clients’ business,” Mitzen says.
This is a no-brainer. Anyone who says this in an interview obviously does not have the intellectual capabilities of working.
9. “You have some beautiful women/men in your office.”
“This shows a lack of maturity,” Mitzen says. “I would be concerned their behavior wouldn’t be office appropriate if we gave them a shot.”
Nobody wants a perv creepily ogling other employees in the office.
10. “What will my role be?”
“Questions like this suggest you will limit yourself to purely what is expected of you, when in reality your role is whatever you make of it,” says Kon Leong, CEO and founder at software company ZL Technologies. “Especially in small companies, the ability to adapt and take on new responsibilities is highly valued.”
“When interviewing, it’s important to have a wide skill set, as many startups and small companies are moving really fast,” says Tigran Sloyan, CEO of programming start-up CodeFights. “Employers are looking for candidates that are agile and can quickly adapt and excel in a growing company.”
You should always have a good sense of the job position you are interviewing for and its fundamental responsibilities. You would want to convey that you are versatile and flexible and open to anything that comes your way.
11. “Do you have grandkids?”
“My ego took a hit on this one, much like when someone asks if a women is pregnant when they aren’t,” Mitzen says. “I may look like I could have grandkids, but not by much. Use better judgment.”
Besides indirectly saying that your interviewer looks old AF, don’t digress and ask a question that has nothing to do with the job or the company unless the interviewer engages you in a personal conversation.
12. “I’m a guru/expert.”
“I cringe when millennials call themselves experts or gurus at things that take time to master,” says Keren Kang, CEO of ad agency Native Commerce. “‘I’m an expert in SEO,’ or ‘I’m an expert in copywriting.’ Say you’re excited about it and love learning about it.”
We know that you have to sell yourself in interviews but being supercilious will get you nowhere. Be humble but confident.
13. “I haven’t updated my blog for a year.”
“I never want to hear about how people start a bunch of things without giving it much commitment or execution. for example, if you started a blog, but only updated it for one week, I don’t need to hear about it,” Kang says.
14. “My only weakness is that I work too hard”
“It’s also a turn-off when candidates answer the question of what are some areas of weakness with an overly positive response,” Sandhir says. “I want to see some humility. Not everyone is perfect, so candidates should be self-aware and be able to articulate their natural challenges in a way that doesn’t derail the interview.”
Come on now, let’s be real. Who are you trying to kid? Instead of trying to mask a strength as a weakness, state your real weaknesses and follow up with the solutions you are putting into play to combat that.
15. “I don’t have any questions.”
“A candidate that ‘doesn’t have any questions’ is potentially somebody that is either not interested in your organization, their career, or possibly both,” Ellery says.