Want the job? What not to say at interview…

Image of a woman holding a resume, looking shocked at what she's heard

Over the years, I’ve interviewed many hundreds of people, and I’ve heard some pretty interesting things (many unrepeatable). More often though, candidates have covered familiar ground – and it’s often ground that takes them out of play.

This is my pick of the most common offenders. If you’re not getting past interview stage, have a look and see if you spot anything familiar yourself…

Uh, um, well…

A lot of work goes into a typical recruitment campaign – from writing the ad and shortlisting, to co-ordinating busy schedules and blocking out interview days. Your panel has done their preparation… and they’ll expect the same from you.

If you don’t know what we do, why you want the job or how you can add value, you’re wasting everyone’s time – including your own. This is so simple and yet so often overlooked: research, prepare and practice, practice, practice. And if you really can’t answer those questions, then maybe this isn’t the job for you.

Ex-bosses and other idiots

Want to be part of a supportive and upbeat team? So does your interview panel – so model positive and upbeat. Never blame or bag your ex-colleagues or bosses. It doesn’t matter if you’re right, it looks unprofessional and you simply won’t get hired.

This will be so good for me

Your recruiters aren’t hiring to help you out, they have a business need to meet – so focus on their needs, not yours. Great for you if work’s 5 minutes from home, and you’ll learn heaps from working there… but hardly compelling reasons to hire you. Put yourself in their shoes, and demonstrate how you offer exactly what they need.   

I really need a job

In the current climate, this may be true… but it doesn’t pledge your commitment and loyalty, it reeks of desperation.  Imagine someone approaching you because they ‘really need a partner’. Attractive proposition? If you really want to secure the job, then really research their needs and really demonstrate your fit.

So when’s my first pay rise?

The ideal hire is genuinely interested in the role, and highly motivated to secure it.  Asking about holidays, salary and benefits does not convey either of those things; it says, I’m all about the money and I’ll be watching that clock. Any terms can be negotiated later, when they really want you. Ask these questions and they won’t.

I’m the best you’ll see

In any interview, there’s a fine line between healthy confidence and arrogance. Yes, you need to showcase your skills and achievements – after all, if you don’t, who will? (Hint: if you’re uncomfortable tooting your own horn, relay any great feedback you’ve had). But ‘I’m better than everyone else’? Not someone I want disrupting my team.

When you’re practising interview answers – and you have to do this – think like a recruiter. Ask friends and family to play the part, or work with an interview coach.

Ultimately, every interview’s a learning opportunity, so keep de-briefing, keep improving… and you will get there! 

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