Showing up late and cursing during your interview are some obvious no-no’s when it comes to proper interview etiquette. But, there are some more subtle, lesser-known things you can do during an interview that’ll basically stamp a giant red sign over your head that reads, “Don’t offer me the job.” Not exactly what you were hoping to portray, right?
There are several common phrases that job seekers use during their interview that seem harmless on the surface, but can actually hurt your chances of scoring the job. In order to avoid putting out the ‘don’t hire me’ vibe, here are six phrases to avoid saying during your interview.
“I’m not familiar with what your company does”
Stop right there. If you say this phrase or ask the hiring manager to explain what exactly it is they do, please just move your chair to the corner, face the wall, and take a kindergarten-style time out. Before any interview, it’s essential to hit the internet and conduct a little research. You should feel like a walking encyclopedia when you’re sitting in the hot seat, prepared to speak about the company’s values, mission, products and services, and any important news or announcements they recently released.
When the interviewer lets you take the stage and ask whatever questions you may have for them, you should leverage this opportunity to communicate how knowledgeable you are – not that you couldn’t be bothered to even look up their website. Do your homework and ask insightful, forward-thinking questions. For example, if the company’s target audience is franchise businesses, you may want to say something along the lines of: “I noticed your client base consists of franchises, does the company have any plans to penetrate other markets, like small businesses?”
“I’m willing to do anything”
While you may have meant that you’re ready to tackle any challenges the employer throws your way, this type of statement comes across a bit desperate. You want to convey that you’re invested in this opportunity, illustrating why you’re the best fit for the job, but in a way that showcases your skills and strengths rather than what you’re willing to do.
There are two ways to rephrase this statement. First, you can discuss what types of tasks you’re currently responsible for, noting how your work has translated into measurable achievements. From there, you can mention where you see yourself developing as a professional and the kind of work you’re interest in taking on in the future. By doing so, you’ll show the hiring manager that you can envision yourself in this role long-term and you’re thinking about progressing in your career.
“No, I’m not familiar with how to handle that”
Acclimating to a new company is always going to present a few challenges – whether it’s familiarizing yourself with a new workflow, learning new internal software, or handling a new task. This is perfectly normal and expected. However, when it comes to expressing to an interviewer that you don’t know how to perform a certain task, there’s a right way and wrong way to communicate that information. If the first word out of your mouth is “no,” the hiring manager can interpret it as an unwillingness to learn or take on new responsibilities.
If you’re answering a question about a specific tool or software, instead of leading the conversation with a statement about having no experience, you can respond by explaining what software or tools you are proficient with and draw parallels to how they are similar to the specific tech your interviewer is asking about. To take it a step further, you can make your response even more impactful by explaining a specific situation where you were required to learn a new tool and your success with quickly digesting the in’s and out’s of the new technology.
“My previous employer was the absolute worst”
This is a classic palm to forehead mistake people make during their interview. Never badmouth an employer in an interview. I know what you’re thinking, “But, why? They sucked.” Even if you had a thoroughly unpleasant experience, trash talking your prior boss or company is only going to get you negative points from the hiring manager.
If you’re ever asked about your former employer, co-workers, or manager, steer clear of any smack talk, as it tells your interviewer that there’s been conflict in your career and if things don’t turn out as expected with this new opportunity, their company is at risk of facing the same fate as your last employer.
Steer the conversation away from negatives and dislikes and instead focus on the positives, like what you were able to learn or accomplish with your former employer. You should also segue into what excites you about the company you’re currently speaking with, highlighting how their values, culture, or management style aligns with your work ethic and preferences.
“I’m not interested in a position that pays anything less than $$$”
Although salary and benefits packages are extremely important to the decision-making process, you shouldn’t broach the topic of compensation in the early stages of the interview process, especially if the hiring manager didn’t directly question you about it. You want to present yourself as flexible, especially when you have yet to be given the rundown on the types of perks, benefits, and pay packages the company is offering.
If your interviewer does ask what your expectations are when it comes to salary, always give a range and make sure you have done some prior market research, so you have a firm understanding of what the average pay range is for the location and position you’re interviewing for. There are many resources available online that’ll use your skills, job title, experience, and geographical location to calculate an estimated salary range and provide you the insight you need to understand what constitutes as fair compensation.
“I’m a highly motivated worker with great leadership skills”
If there’s one thing the business world overdoes, it’s buzzwords. And make no mistake, hiring managers and recruiters are looking for originality and authenticity, not overused phrases that people like to regurgitate because they think it’s what an interviewer wants to hear. If you’re going to list your strengths and soft skills, you need to back them up with evidence.
To do this, elaborate on your qualities, using specific stories and examples to illustrate times where you exercised collaboration or problem-solving skills in an effective and meaningful way. Anyone can say they’re good at something, but demonstrating why and how you've developed your strengths is a whole other ballgame
Next time you walk into your interview, you can do so with confidence, knowing that you’ve eliminated these interview faux-pas from your dialogue.