There is an unspoken set of rules that goes on in the interview.
And you are expected to know them.
These rules come from the recruiter or hiring manager. They have things they want to hear and things they don’t want to hear. How do you know what they are and how do you prepare for them?
Candidates practice their interviewing skills vigorously. They read up on what to say, how to answer. Dress appropriately. Smile. Follow body language. Get in front of a mirror and practice. Be on time, but not too early.
They go over their lists of strengths and weaknesses, their accomplishments, their contributions to the last job, what they offer this new company.
But what about the things they should NOT say? Interviewers are weighing what you DON’T say just as much as what you do say.
Here are 7 key things you shouldn’t say in the interview.
1. Salary. “How much does this pay?” is one of the worst ways to start a conversation. Don’t talk about it right away. The longer you wait, the more leverage you have when negotiations start. They know you are anxious for clarity but they are also interested in what their ROI will be before they make an offer. Wait it out.
2. Company. Come prepared. Know what the company does! Know their mission, product, or service. What do they do? Who do they sell to? Who is their biggest competitor? What were their quarterly and year-end earnings last year? Act as though you are the company ambassador. The more you know about it, the more impressed they will be. Telling the interviewer you are “sort of familiar” with their company will put you in the NO pile.
3. Your old company. Do not bash your last company, manager, co-workers, or the way they did things. It might have ended badly, but the new company doesn’t need to hear about it. It makes you look bad and will let them know that you will bash them as well. It also makes you look difficult or whiny. Honestly, when I talk to a client and all they do is bash their old company, it does send up some red flags. I also assume that the client will be difficult to work with (past experience tells me they will). Work out your feelings before going to an interview and leave it behind.
4. I need this job. Don’t let your desperation show. They know you want the job. They know you (most likely) need the money. Keep your focus on what the company needs from you and how you are the right fit for the role. You want to lead with your strengths and experience. They don’t want just anyone for the job. They want the RIGHT person.
5. I want your job. When they ask you “where do you see yourself in 5 years” don’t tell them you want their job. You might think it sounds ambitious but it could come off as arrogant or that you plan on leaving soon. Plus, you may be talking to a sensitive or worried manager who doesn’t know how stable their job is. Telling them you want their job may automatically make them defensive or turned off. Instead, let them know that you hope to gain experience and knowledge from the role with a promotion following.
This is a stepping stone. If you know this next role is only to benefit your career through additional experience so you can move on to the role after that, don’t tell the interviewer that. They don’t need to know that you only view their company as temporary. They want to hire someone committed to the company and the role.
7. Questions. Have questions ready! Expectations? Culture? What is a typical day like? How do you measure success in this position? What type of advancement is there? What types of challenges should I expect? Who will I be working with? You’ve read my resume and spoken with me, do you think I am a good fit for the role? Even ask them about their role! Going to an interview without follow up questions will make you look unprepared.
Interview don’ts are just as important as interview do’s. Good luck!
Are you one of those people who talk when they are nervous? It’s pretty easy to do — and very damaging to your career if you don’t learn how to control it. That old adage about having two ears and one mouth so you can listen twice as much as you talk is actually good advice for every part of your working world, from the interview to get the job to the moves into management and executive leadership.
The Big Mistake You Can Make
When you sit down for an interview, one of the big questions in the interviewer’s mind is what you will be like to work with. It’s a valid question because most jobs do involve some level of teamwork. So in order to answer the big questions, the way you answer smaller questions is observed. Speaking without listening is a red flag because it indicates that since you don’t listen here, in the job interview, you won’t listen later, on the job.
If you are rehearsing your “hire me” job spiel in your head, waiting for the chance to present it, then you aren’t going to be hearing the questions they ask. You’ll be answering the questions you think they will ask — and that is not the same thing at all.
It is a good preparation tactic to think through questions that may be asked in an interview. But that’s not a script you are rehearsing, and the interview may not involve those questions at all. It’s better to make sure you actually hear what is being asked so you can answer the question.
The Leadership Skill of Listening
One of the reasons that the skill of listening is a mark of leadership is because truly hearing what people are saying gives added perspective to a problem so it can be solved. Listening is a mark of respect for the speaker, and true leaders value those on their team as important contributors. Learning how to listen is part of honing your interview skills, but being able to listen and contribute value to the conversation by being on the same page is a skill you will need all your life.
It stings when you are not hired after an interview for a job you really wanted. It stings even more when you are sure you are well-qualified for the position and have worked hard on your resume and interview skills. What you do with rejection is going to make a big impact on what happens next.
Don’t Assume That You Are The Reason For Rejection
A company has to conduct interviews even if they already know someone inside the corporation is getting a position. It may be that you are well-qualified for the position, your resume is stellar, and you were impressive during the interview, but the person who is getting the job has the advantage of experience.
Getting into a downward spiral of dejection in this case is a mistake. You aren’t the reason for rejection if someone else is a better choice for the job because it isn’t your failure that determined the choice here.
Admit What Is Wrong
Sometimes you actually are the reason for the rejection. It might be that you didn’t seem like a good fit for the company culture, or you didn’t look the interviewer in the eye and that came across as sneaky. Maybe you were sloppy or had too much makeup or wore perfume that made their nose itch. Perhaps you checked your cell phone for messages during the interview or some other automatic habit was a problem.
The only way to know is to work on honing your interview skills and getting help identifying your blind spots.
Be Willing To Change And Learn
If you got to the interview stage, your resume and cover letter are probably not the problem. It’s not a bad idea to go over them to make sure your qualifications are evident for the next submission, but they were good enough to get you in the door for a face to face talk. Congratulations! An interview is still a good thing even if you didn’t get the job.
You have the experience of that interview to build on, and the knowledge that you were impressive enough to call in. Now it’s time to analyze what happened and learn from it. Appreciate all the advice you can gather, apply it analytically without letting your feelings get in the way, and let rejection be the catalyst that makes your success a reality.