What not to say in an interview, man covering his face with his hands

What not to say in an interview

I did a post not too long ago called How to ace an interview which covered lots of fun things like clothing, body language and general behaviour but what if like me your problem is less about what not to wear and more about what not to say! 

I have a natural tendency towards the brutally honest, or the awkward but innocently inappropriate comment especially in a pressured scenario so, I am always petrified that I will say something I shouldn't. No amount of body language preparation is going to save you from an inappropriate blurt out that leaves an awkward silence hanging in the room.

The most dangerous point for me is always the beginning of the interview, right as you walk in. This is when I am most nervous and where the intended “nice to meet you” can turn into a cringeworthy, “hey do you come here often”, or “you look like you work out”.... Wink..

Oh geez make it stop.

It is because of my deep set fear of screwing up in the first 30 seconds that I always have to take a breath, smile and wait for them to speak first to avoid any potential for disaster in the opening scene.

I know I can’t be the only person who has no social filter, so in a show of solidarity here is a quick guide to what not to say in an interview gathered from hints and tips provided by those more socially adept than me.

1. Do I know you?

This one is a little obvious, but I am going to put it out there right off the bat, just in case. Don't say “you look familiar, are you on Tinder (or similar)?”Unless you are sure that you do know them and it's through something vanilla like a mutual friend or from school, it’s probably best not to bring it up at all.

2. The job market is competitive

Avoid expressing how hard it has been to get a job or land an interview, this interviewer does not need to know how you have struggled to get into that room. Say that you appreciate the opportunity to interview for the position and leave it at that.

3. So, what do you do here?

Don't ask questions that you really should have researched beforehand. Asking how old the company is or what they do shows that you have not taken the time to prepare.

Do say “I saw that this company does X, I have worked in a similar industry before at Y” or “I noticed that your company values include X which is interesting because..

4. Me? Oh I’m awesome!

Describing yourself with a ton of adjectives like confident, intelligent, bubbly does not provide as much info as you would think, and you can guarantee that they have heard it from all the other applicants too.Instead, give them an insight as to why you feel you are a good fit for this role in particular, with some specifics from your experiences to illustrate.

5. I used to bunk off school all the time

Try not to open up too much about transgressions from the past. A friendly relaxed atmosphere can quickly lull you into being a little too honest. Now is not the time to start listing your regrets from days gone by. Try to provide a safe example of a time where you have learned something relevant for example, “I missed the opportunity to do X and it taught me to be more specific when talking about my goals to my team leader"

6. My last boss was a nightmare

Never say negative things about your ex-bosses or co-workers. Even if you worked with a bunch of social misfits, save those stories for your friends. Do say, it was a diverse team and you learnt a lot from your time there but feel that you need a new challenge.

7. I won the Wasabi challenge in college

If you are asked to explain something you are proud of make sure it is work related. If you can't think of anything specific then go with, “I am most proud of the skills I have developed through work.” Skills you could mention here might include, communication, team work, self-motivation, organisation, customer service, problem-solving.

8. I don’t have any questions right now.

If you are asked do you have any questions, please don't say no just to get out of the room as quickly as possible. Some of the questions you could ask are;

What are the key measures of performance?

What is a typical progression path for someone in this role?

What opportunities are there for training and skill development?

If in the unlikely chance none of these fit or have already been covered, then opt for a question like this,

Have many of the senior staff worked their way up from this position?

Closely followed by “How did they do that?” or if the answer was “No” ask “Why do you think that is?

”Good luck with your interview, don’t forget, if you are on the hunt for a new job you can check out our available roles here.

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