Everyone tells you to just be yourself, but that’s really bad advice if you’re going into a job interview. This is one instance where you absolutely don’t want to be yourself, and you don’t want to relax and get comfortable, either. Stay rigid and you’ll stay professional. And if you can stay on track during the interview and prevent yourself from saying these 10 things, you’ll have a much better chance of actually getting the job.
Of course you’ve got questions about the job, and of course you want to show a little personality to the interviewer. But that doesn’t mean you should actually ask the stuff you really do want to know, or say the things that are going through your mind during the question and answer process. It’s best if you stay on script, and avoid all those random comments that are just dying to come shooting out of your mouth.
There are more clever ways to find out the information you need to have, and there are lots of great reasons why you can’t say the things you really want to say. So the next time you have an interview, forget about being yourself. Don’t even try to relax. Just remember not to say these 10 things, because if you do you’ll end up blowing your chances at getting the job you want.
10. How many sick days do you offer?
Obviously it’s an important question and you do need an answer, but you can’t ask about sick days in the interview. It implies that you’re planning on using those days, and using them as soon as possible. Even if that’s true, it clearly doesn’t send the best message to someone who’s thinking about hiring you for job. Besides, there are other ways to find out the answer — without making yourself look bad.
Instead of specifically asking about sick days, ask the interview about the complete benefits package available. The provided overview should include information about your vacation days and sick days, if any.
9. How soon will I get a raise?
Again, it’s a relevant question and you’ve got every right to know the answer. But any interviewer is going to find it a little off-putting if you’re asking about getting a raise before they’ve even had a chance to see your work. You know you’re awesome, of course, but you haven’t yet proved that to them. Phrase the same question in a different way, and you can get the answer you need without making yourself look like a jerk.
Instead of asking about raises, ask the interviewer about your opportunities for advancement. This should include information about raises and potential promotions, and the question itself shows that you’re thinking of the long term.
8. I’d rather be my own boss.
Who wouldn’t? But when asked about your plans for the future, your ideal career or any of those other questions that interviewers try to trip you up with, don’t say this. Indicate that you hope to do something that can positively affect the company, even if your real long-term goals don’t really involve the place you’re interviewing with.
Instead of saying you want to strike out on your own, say that you plan to improve your own skills and expertise — perhaps by taking online or community college courses. Interview experts say you should stay away from talking about your future with the company, which can feel a little false. Talk about how you’ll increase your own skill set instead, something that can make you more valuable to any employer.
7. How much longer is this going to take?
Interviews are nothing close to fun. You’re sitting there in uncomfortable clothing, you don’t know if your hair is doing something strange and you feel nervous the entire time. You’ve got to come up with the right answers and remember the explanations you’ve decided upon for the jobs you no longer have. So naturally, you want to know when you can expect this torture to be over. You just can’t ask, because that looks really, really bad.
The interviewer actually doesn’t like this meeting any more than you do, so you probably won’t have to wait long for the final handshake at the end. If the interview is going to be any longer than thirty minutes, most companies will let you know that before you ever show up to the meeting. So just wait it out, and it’ll all be over soon.
6. Hang on – I need to take this call.
You’re used to answering your cell when it rings, or responding to texts when you get them. But do not do this in an interview, not if you want the job. If you’re having a true emergency and it’s do-or-die, then you do need to take the call — but you probably still won’t get that job.
So do yourself a favor. Before you walk into the interview, turn off your cell. That way, you won’t be tempted to answer a call or respond to a text. Otherwise, it can get far too tempting to sneak a peek or interrupt a question to check in on the rest of the world because being in an interview can make you feel like you’re completely cut off.
5. My last boss/coworkers is/were the worst.
It’s probably true that your ex-boss is awful, or your former co-workers terrible. Maybe Cindy did talk on the phone all day, and Matt was always late, and your boss totally spent most of his time playing Solitaire. But under no circumstances should your new potential employer know any of this. There are lots of ways to explain why you no longer work at your last job without bashing anyone who was there at the time.
When you’re looking for ways to describe your former job, say that it didn’t challenge you enough or keep you busy enough. Say it didn’t provide you with growth opportunities so you could better yourself as an employee. Say whatever you need to say to keep yourself from mentioning that the guy in the next cubicle was a total jerk, even if he was.
4. I’m not wearing that.
Keep any and all comments about the dress code or uniform policy strictly to yourself, no matter how bad it is. Unless your next move is going to be getting up and walking out the door, just agree to whatever weird fashion code this company wants you to follow. The interviewer isn’t interested in your opinion, and anything negative you may say about the clothing is likely to be taken with some offense since the interviewer probably is wearing the approved clothing, or did at one time.
Sure, the on-the-job clothing may offend your fashion sensibilities, but there’s no way that the interviewer needs to know that. Save up the comments and the jokes for your new co-workers. At least that way, you’ll have something to talk about on your first day.
3. Do you like to party?
Ever heard the phrase “wrong time and place?” Try to avoid connecting to the interviewer on a personal level, and you should especially shy away from making some sort of a social connection no matter how tempting it may be. Even if you know the interviewer from the past or through another acquaintance, it’s always a good idea to stay professional during the interview itself.
If you’re determined to get social with the interviewer, do so only once the interview is over. That means wait for the final handshake, then make the overture — but remember, you could still be risking the job by making this move.
2. I can’t pass a drug test.
You know you can’t pass the test, and that means you’re going to fail. But there’s really no point in telling your interviewer that. It’s very unlikely that they will start to give you tips for passing or otherwise aid you in getting the job, so what’s the point of spilling your secret? When the drug test that you’re going to fail is mentioned, simply nod, smile and act like it’s no big deal at all. You can freak out about it in the parking lot.
Many jobs make it clear that they drug-test employees, so in the future try to make it a point to search for jobs that will not do this if you know you’re not going to pass. This will save you a lot of time and wasted interviews.
1. Let me just take my shoes off.
Your feet may be aching. Your tie might be choking you. Your belt could be cutting off your circulation. But it doesn’t matter how uncomfortable you are. Unless you’re in danger of a medical emergency, try your best to keep everything you’re wearing in its proper place. And try to look like it’s not bothering you.
Even if the interviewer has taken off their jacket and put their feet up on the desk, don’t do anything but sit straight up in the chair and look alert. They will invite you to make yourself comfortable, but they don’t mean that literally. Stay professional, stay put together and keep smiling even as your feet form blisters, if you have to.