As someone who has interviewed many candidates, there were times when I thought to myself: “I can’t believe she just said that!” At that point, the candidate was on shaky ground. Do you know what not to say in an interview?
First, let’s consider the purpose of the interview. The hiring employer must know if the candidate is 1.) Qualified to perform the job functions, 2.) Has the knowledge and motivation to advance the goals of the employer, and 3.) Is able fit in with the employer’s culture and staff. Through carefully-planned interview questions and close attention to the candidate’s behavior and responses, the hiring employer determines if the candidate is a hit or a miss.
Take note of these things that can cause you to miss an opportunity.
1.) Don’t ever share negative comments about your current or past employers and co-workers. You may sound like an employee that may be a "management problem."
2.) Don’t ask for special hours or equipment. If you have a disability, wait for the appropriate time in the interview process to discuss any special accommodations. Outside of a disability, if you are asking for special treatment during the interview, the interviewer can only imagine your requests after you start the job.
3.) Avoid initiating salary discussions or making demands for perks in the early interview stages. Let the prospective employer initiate salary discussions. It is alright to give a range if asked. However, it can be a turnoff if you are the one to initiate the subject of salary.
4.) Don’t ask about vacation days, sick days, or holidays. This can be a turnoff because you may seem more interested in time off rather than the job itself. Would a hardworking, dedicated employee be more focused on days off or doing a good job?
5.) Don't give a list of the things you won't do. Telling an interviewer that you don't make cold calls or work overtime is another alarm. Make sure you apply for positions that are appropriate for you. There will always be tasks that are not enjoyable.
6.) Don’t ask a question to show that you are unformed and unprepared. An example of a poor choice of question is "What is it your company does again?" Take the time to know about the company before you interview.
7.) Don’t make a statement that shows that you are not a serious candidate. For example, if you say a statement like this, don’t expect a call for a second interview. "I don't know, I just saw your ad and I thought I'd give this a try." Always prepare to discuss why you are interested in the job, how this position fits in with your goals, and why you are an excellent candidate.
8.) Don’t dodge questions asking for your weakness by saying, "I don't have any negative points." Prepare an answer to this question and explain how you are working to improve it. Another angle is to explain how it is negative and also positive. For example, "When I start a project I throw myself into it and sometimes neglect personal obligations. I have to keep myself in check to avoid burnout."
9.) Don’t be confrontational. Avoid argumentative statements. Remember you want to be liked and fit in. If you are hired you will have plenty of time to learn their business and make suggestions. The interview is not the time to argue and force your opinions.
10.) Don’t whine or complain. Leave your personal problems at home. Present yourself as a strong, capable person that can overcome setbacks and challenges.
11.) Do not make dishonest or misleading statements. The truth tends to come out at some point. The old adage "Honesty is the best policy" applies here.
12.) It goes without saying that slang and expletives should not be used. Derogatory remarks about a particular gender, race or nationality are out of line.
These are a few examples of things not to say in an interview. Consider the goals of the interviewer and throughout the meeting, do your best to show you meet the criteria of being able to perform the job, knowledge and motivation to be successful, and lastly, the ability to get along and fit. Keep your statements positive and choose answers to prove you are the ideal candidate.