What Not to Say in a Job Interview

By Kristin Patterson

Setting yourself apart from the crowd is critical when you are searching for a new job.  Hiring Managers looking to fill a role are looking for that special something that sets the very best candidates apart.  Sometimes, knowing what not to say in a job interview is just as important as knowing how to answer tricky interview questions! To give yourself the best chance of landing your dream job, here are a couple of mistakes that you should definitely try to avoid.

Never ask about salary.  Leave that to your recruiter to negotiate for you.  If you aren’t using a recruiter, there is a time and a place to bring up salary, and the first interview isn’t always the right one.  You want the hiring manager to feel that you’re primarily interested in the company and the opportunity you’re interviewing for.  I once had a candidate who quickly learned what not to say in a job interview. He talked his way out of a great opportunity because his first question was, “What does this job pay? I won’t accept anything less than $120K a year.”  He then asked what the bonus potential was and how long would he have to wait until he was eligible for a salary increase!  Safe to say that he was not asked back in for a second interview!

Never badmouth your current company or ex-employer.  You never want to turn the tone of your interview negative, even if you may be having a bad experience at your current job or if your old boss was an insensitive jerk.  All this does is make you look like somebody who is difficult to manage.  In one of my candidate’s interviews, he ranted and raved about how horrible his current boss was, saying that his boss treated him badly and favored other employees. Red flag!! Instead of being a “Negative Nellie”, when asked why you are leaving, focus on your ambitions for the future and what excites you about the job for which you are interviewing.

Don’t be tricked into saying something bad about yourself! Generally speaking, employers just want to find out more about you to see if you’re going to be a good fit for their position. That said, employers also have a lot at stake in making a good hire, and sometimes, they’ll use tricky interview questions to dig deeper into the truth behind your story. While we firmly believe that honesty is the best policy, you may be asked a tricky interview question designed to reveal something negative about yourself. For instance, says Jenna Goudreau, you might be asked to share what bugs you about your coworkers or your boss.

Don’t fall into this trap…You always want to present yourself as optimistic and action-oriented, and hiring managers may use this question to tease out whether you’ll have trouble working with others or could drag down workplace morale and productivity. “Develop a poor memory for past irritations,” she advises. Reflect for a few seconds, and then say you can’t recall anything in particular. Go on to compliment former bosses for being knowledgeable and fair and commend past coworkers for their ability and attitude. It will reveal your positive outlook and self-control and how you’ll handle the social dynamics in this position.

Making a good first impression is crucial. You usually won’t get a second chance once you’ve made a mistake and said something inappropriate. To avoid giving an answer that might make the interviewer think twice about hiring you, consult with your recruiter prior to your interview.  Get his or her advice as to the best interviewing practices. If you’re unsure about certain questions to ask or how to best answer particularly tricky interview questions, your recruiter can advise you.  We’re here to help and believe me, we’ve seen it all!

Now that you’ve answered all those tricky interview questions, what’s the best way to follow up after your interview? Click here to find out.

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