When you’re interviewing for a new job, it's not just a matter of knowing what to say. It's also important to know what not to say.
Too many job seekers shoot off statements that make a bad impression -- or end the interview in a downright epic flameout.
Here’s a list of things you never want to let slip while talking to a potential employer, plus suggestions for what you ought to say instead.
1. 'I really need this job.'
Coming across as desperate never makes for a good first impression. Employers want to hire people who are organized and confident in their abilities.
You don't want to leave interviewers feeling that you're begging, or trying to guilt them into hiring you. That's counterproductive and distracting.
Instead of saying that you really need the job, focus on your qualifications and why you’re motivated to work for the company.
2. 'I foresee a scheduling conflict.'
If you've got a major trip booked for the near future, now may not be the best time to hit the job search.
However, if you have travel plans and score an unexpected interview, it's best not to ask for time off before you're even offered the position. Because if you're not hired, there won't be a reason to worry.
If you are hired, then simply provide the date you can start and explain that you want to give you current employer plenty of notice. This will make you seem like a responsible and respectful employee.
3. 'Tell me about your company.'
One of the biggest mistakes an interviewee can make is walking into a job interview with no idea why they want to work for the company.
Employers are looking for people who are drawn to their line of business and who share their goals and values. They don’t want to hire just anyone looking to make a buck.
Before you head to the interview, investigate the company online and make sure you understand its business, have an idea of what your duties will entail, and know which aspects of your personality and experience make you a perfect fit.
4. 'Weaknesses? Let me tell you …'
Interviewers love to ask job candidates about their weaknesses, because the answers say a lot about applicants' skills, their ability to overcome difficulties — and their personalities.
Let’s face it, nobody’s perfect. Although it’s tempting to say you don’t have any weaknesses, that will sound dishonest.
It’s also a bad idea to overshare about serious past struggles with addiction, mental illness or constant lateness. So, focus instead on your skills that you're looking to improve and build upon.
5. 'I get so nervous in interviews.'
It's common to feel some butterflies. But while an interviewer probably won’t judge you too harshly for acknowledging your nervousness, it may make the employer question how confident you'll be in the job.
This is particularly true if it's a position that involves giving presentations, dealing with customers or answering phones.
Just try to relax and fake it ‘til you make it, even if you're not feeling super confident. Remember, they’re already interested in you. That’s how you got the interview.
6. 'Bleep' (Any cursing)
Foul language has no place in a work situation, so don’t use it during an interview — even if one of your interviewers drops a swear word first.
That person may feel comfortable enough to curse, but as an interviewee who doesn’t yet have the job, you should be as respectful and professional as possible.
Also, keep in mind that even mild cursing may be offensive and put off a hiring manager who's very devout. Err on the side of caution until you get hired and get a feel for the workplace culture.
7. 'My last job/boss was the worst.'
Complaining about a previous job, boss or company is unprofessional and makes potential employers wonder what you’d say about their company if things don't work out.
Also, some industries are very insular, and LinkedIn connects people more than ever — so for all you know, the horrible manager you're unloading about may be your interviewer’s friend or former colleague.
Simply stick to saying you think the new position will be an exciting opportunity to grow your skills, or that it’s more closely aligned with your long-term interests.
8. 'Sorry I'm late.'
Unless you're held up by an incident worthy of making the local news, you might as well not even show up to most job interviews if you're running late.
Being tardy for an interview is rude and shows you're not taking it seriously.
Make sure you leave incredibly early to interview for a job you seriously want to land. If you wind up with time to kill, you can always have coffee next door.
9. 'I have another offer on the table.'
Contrary to popular opinion, dropping this one will not make you look more in demand.
That's because what you're really telling the people you’re interviewing with is that their job is a fallback option and you're not all that enthusiastic about it.
If the person hiring you is absolutely desperate and has no other candidates willing to settle for the position, then a statement like this could help you win the job — but that's extremely unlikely.
10. 'Mind if I take this call?'
When you're in a job interview, your cellphone should be turned off, period. You want to be giving your full attention.
If you just glance down at an incoming text, that can be a huge turnoff for interviewers. Even a vibrating phone can be disruptive.
If you can’t keep your eyes off your phone for this important first-impression-making meeting, you’ll probably be distracted by personal business on your phone all during the workday. No employer wants that.
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