“You have no idea, setting up these interviews so quickly is fantastic. You're helping me out a great deal.”
— M. Heard
"What to Say & What Not to Say."
• "I'M REALLY NERVOUS."
There's nothing wrong with feeling nervous. It's natural to be a little uneasy at an important interview. But don't tell the interviewer if you have butterflies in your stomach. Your job in the interview is to portray a confident and professional demeanor. You won't win any points by admitting your nerves or blaming them for any failures in your performance.
• "I DON'T REALLY KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE JOB; I THOUGHT YOU'D TELL ME ABOUT IT."
"This is a big job seeker mistake and it can cost you the opportunity. Employers spend a lot of time interviewing and they expect candidates to have researched the job enough to be able to explain why they want the position. Otherwise, you could be wasting everyone's time by interviewing for a job you may not even really want. Asking questions is important, but don't ask anything you should know from the job description or from reading about the company online.
• "MY FORMER BOSS / COLLEAGUE / CLIENT WAS A REAL JERK."
"It's possible (and even likely) that your interviewer could prod you into telling tales about your previous or current supervisor or work environment. Resist the urge to badmouth anyone, even if you have a bad boss. It is unprofessional and the employer will worry what you may say to someone about him or her down the road. Instead, think about ways to describe the past work environments in terms of what you learned or accomplishments you are proud to discuss.
• "MY BIGGEST WEAKNESS IS..." (Something directly related to the job)
"What's your weakness?" is one of the most dreaded interview questions. There is no perfect reply, but there is a reply you should never say. Never admit to a weakness that will affect your ability to get the job done. If the job description requires a lot of creativity and you say your creativity has waned lately, you can assume you've taken yourself out of the running for the job. Choose a weakness not related to the position and explain how you're working to improve it.
Granted, profanity seems to be more accepted in many workplaces today, but an interview is not the time to demonstrate that you can talk like a pirate.
• "JUST A MINUTE, I NEED TO GET THIS CALL."
"It's amazing how many hiring managers and recruiters report that interviewees answer their phones and respond to text messages during in-person interviews. Turn off your phone during interviews and you will not be tempted to reach for and answer it.
• "HOW MUCH VACATION TIME WOULD I GET?"
"Never, ever, ask questions in an interview that make it appear that you'll be overly focused on anything other than work.
• "CAN I WORK FROM HOME?"
"Even if you're pretty sure the company has a lenient "work-from-home" policy, the interview isn't the best time to ask about it.
• "FAMILY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO ME."
"This is true for many people. However, you do not need to explain during your job interview how devoted you are to your family. It is unlikely to win favor, even in organizations with a well-known family-friendly environment. You want your potential employer to envision you being totally devoted to his or her needs.
When in doubt, pause before you say what's on your mind. If you wonder if it's okay to ask, assume it's better to avoid the topic altogether.
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