Five Things NOT TO SAY during a Job Interview

As part of our candidate interview process, I speak to each candidate 24 – 48 hours prior to their job interview with the client.  We call this the “candidate prep.”  Without a good prep, the candidate flies blind and almost never gets the position.

I spend most of this time coaching them on things to do during the interview such as asking good questions, etc.  But the one question I get most of all from the candidates is, “what are some things that I should not do during an interview. 

Here are the five “no-go” areas that will probably cost you the job:

  1. Going negative on your former firm or co-workers:  Resist the urge to go negative about your  previous firm or co-workers.  It’s not good form.  Repeat:  No matter how badly they treated you, DO NOT speak negatively about them.  If you do, you will not get the job.  Nobody likes a whiner.  And they know that if they hire you, you will end up hating them too.
  2. “I will sweep the floor”:  Do not tell the interviewer that you volunteer to do anything.  This immediately cheapens your worth and positions you as an “active candidate” willing to do just about anything to get a job.  Instead, have a plan to specifically communicate what you are good at AND how you can add immediate value.  Be specific.  Map your skills, experience, and interests onto what they are seeking.  Read the job description. 
  3. Don’t use Adjectives:  Do not describe yourself as, “resourceful, a self-starter, a closer, results-oriented, etc.”  Adjectives are for losers.  Instead, get specific: “I have led a team of 15 account managers” or “I closed 16 deals averaging $25k in revenues in the final quarter last year” or “I designed, developed, and implemented a new EPIC agency management system in less than 120 days”
  4. “I don’t know”:  Never say, “I don’t know” in a job interview.  Instead, gather your thoughts by simply asking the interviewer to clarify the question.  Then respond by explaining that you may not have done that “exact thing”, but something similar.  Then explain that similar duty or responsibility.  If you simply respond, “I don’t know or I have never done that”, well…the interview is probably over.  Learn to think on your feet.
  5. “What does your firm do?”  I had a very well dressed individual in my office last month interviewing for a recruiter position and they asked me, “So what do you guys do here?”  My response was that I looked at my watch and said, “OMG, I forgot about a client conference call…I am terribly sorry, but I have to go…” That was it.  My advice:  take 30 minutes to study the job description and read the website.  Check the firm out on Google for the latest news and look up the interviewers on LinkedIn.  Simple stuff.  You have to do your homework.  Chance favors the Prepared Mind.

That’s it.  If you avoid these five pitfalls, you will have a good shot at nailing the interview!

Rob Houghton

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