Lyn Balanza

Written by Lyn Balanza

AUGUST 10, 2018

Job interviews are a tricky thing. While saying the right things won’t always guarantee you get the job, saying the wrong thing will most likely guarantee to cost you the job. Here are nine things you should avoid saying during your job interview in order to maximize your chances of moving on to the next step of your job application.

“I love what you’re wearing”

Normally, compliments are all good, but when it comes to interviews it can be quite off-putting to the interviewer, especially if it’s about appearance, outfits, or material things. Avoid those types of compliments - no matter how great his/her outfit may be. If you do feel the need to compliment something, focus on what they’ve done for the business or their professional accomplishments.

“I didn’t like my boss” (or he was incompetent, an idiot, or anything negative)

No matter how true this may be, there is always the chance that your interviewer will think it might be you who is actually difficult to work with. Also, the fact that you’re willing to bad-mouth your previous supervisor during an interview will give your interviewer the impression that you will do the same to them in the future. This doesn’t just apply to your boss though, but for anyone you worked with in the past. What you say about the people you worked with says a lot about your character. So you know what they say - if you can't say anything good, don't say anything at all.

When asked about strengths and weaknesses: “I don’t think I have any weaknesses”

Don’t say this because it just isn’t true. Unless you're some kind of unicorn, everyone has some sort of weakness so just keep it real and be honest. Be prepared to expose some weaknesses - as long as it isn’t absolutely central to the job. For example, if you are applying for a customer support role, don’t say your weakness is you don’t know how to handle people. Once you’ve exposed a weakness, talk about what you’ve done to try and improve on it, or how your previous experience has taught you how to handle it.

“Being a perfectionist is my biggest weakness”

The thing about this response is that it’s actually more common than you think. Apart from sounding overly rehearsed or super cliche, it might actually come off as arrogant. The reason this type of answer is no good because it doesn’t actually give insight as to how you work or your personality. If perfectionism truly is your biggest weakness, find a different way to phrase it and explain specifically how it's your weakness by giving concrete examples.

“How many vacation days do I get, can I work from home, is it flexi-time, how much non-taxable allowance do I get, etc.”

While it’s perfectly alright to ask about benefits that you will receive, it’s best to save it for when you’ve actually been offered a job or else you may come off as someone only looking for benefits. Your interviewer may end up questioning your work ethic and motivations for the job. Meaning if free lunches are offered but then suddenly taken away for some reason, it gives the impression that you to will go away - and no interviewer wants a candidate who will leave a few months into being hired.

“I don’t have any questions”

Make sure you have some questions ready or else it will seem like you are not that interested. Questions are good - it’s how you learn things. A job interview isn’t just for an interviewer to see if you fit into the job, it’s also for you to see if the job or company you are applying to actually suit your expectations. Ask things about company culture, what is expected of you, what your daily tasks would be and so on. If you’re not sure where to start, start with the five things you need to know about the company.

“What does your company do?”

When you do ask questions, don’t ask this one. Rule number one of job interviews - do your research. You want to at least show your potential employer that you’re excited about the job enough that you did a bit of digging. What might even be worse is that if your interviewer asks what you know about the company and you respond with “nothing”. Even though they may smile and explain what the company is, surely on the inside they aren’t smiling. If you can't even answer the basics of what the company does, their main product, or even the industry they belong to, then you're in big trouble.

“It’s on my resume”

The reason interviewers ask is that they want to find out more. In fact, Nando Rodriguez, Head of Employer Branding at Ogilvy & Mather says, “Here’s the thing; I know it’s on your resume, but if I’m asking you about a particular job or experience, I want you to tell me more beyond a written word. I’m actually evaluating your communication and social skills. Are you articulate? Should you be client-facing, or are you someone we need to keep hidden in the basement next to the IT lending library?”

“I want to start my own business soon”

Ambition is great, an entrepreneurial spirit is amazing. But saying this tells your interviewer that you’re only in it for the paycheck until you can save enough money to start your own business. Given that when companies hire, they generally want you to stay longer, saying this may very much cost you the job.

Job interviews can be a tricky thing that stirs up a lot of nerves, but with enough preparation and practice (and even experience), you'll be sure to start passing with flying colors and receiving offers left and right.

AUGUST 10, 2018