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!