Thursday, December 11, 2008
The Idiotic Things People Say in Interviews
"Welcome, Ms. Jones. Thank you for coming in for an interview today. I'd like to spend some time talking with you about your application and past work history."
"Oh, thank you for calling me. I'd be very happy to answer any questions you might have."
"OK, well let's start with an obvious one: Why do you want to work here?"
"Well, I just think it's a great company. You have such a great reputation, and I think my skills would be of great benefit to you. I'd work really hard."
"How nice. Well, can you be more specific about --"
"Oh, and it would be so nice to work with people who are educated. I mean, some of the people I work with now. Well, let's just say they're not the sharpest tools in the shed...."
"Uh. OK. Well, let's talk about this project you mention on your resume where you headed up the team that brought in a very lucrative project."
"You bet. We got that contract because I kicked ass and wouldn't take any crap from anyone. I didn't want to hear a bunch of whining about sick kids or lung transplants. I mean, we were there to make money, and I made sure we did that."
"I see. So...."
"You know, I just want to be clear here. If you hire me, I'm going to pull my weight and then some. When my parents kicked me out when I was 17, I didn't sit around and complain about poor little me. I did what I had to do, and sometimes it wasn't pretty. But it got the job done. And that's what I'll do for you."
"Ms. Jones, you certainly have given me a lot to think about. We have several other candidates to interview, so I appreciate you coming in."
"Sure thing. I can't wait to get out of this suit, anyway. These pantyhose are cutting off my air, and my feet are killing me in these stupid shoes. I'll wait to get your call."
(Ms. Jones leaves. Hiring manager wads resume into a tight ball and lobs it into the trash can.)
I'll bet there's been a time in your life where you've regretted something you said. Maybe it was a harsh word to a friend or a criticism of a loved one. You may have gone back and apologized, or tried to make it up in some other way.
But the problem with saying the wrong thing in a job interview is that you probably won't get another chance. If you're annoying, unprofessional or just plain weird, chances are you're not going to hear from that potential employer again.
So, here's a list. Memorize it. Recite it as a mantra. Text yourself. Just don't forget to:
1. Stay positive: Interviewees may try and explain why they want to leave their old job, or why getting laid off hasn't been such a bad thing. But instead of saying they're looking for a new opportunity, they talk about how Bill in IT was a dork and the boss was a real a**hole. This is an immediate turnoff for interviewers -- if you talk trash they know you may do the same about a new employer.
2. Clean up your mouth: While swearing may seem like a minor thing to some people, to some people it is a very big deal. And how do you know the interviewer isn't one of the latter?
3. Keep confidences. Don't reveal personal details about others. "Ted is a great guy but more than once I had to take his car keys after some company party. He just doesn't know his limits." Interviewers have to wonder if you'd blab company secrets or personnel confidences if they employed you.
4. Be a grown-up. Whining and complaining about people or events, talking about what a bad temper you have or how you suffer from low self-esteem will not get you hired. Hiring managers will see you as a boatload of anxiety or trouble that they don't need.
5. Keep your personal life personal. While some interviewers may try and lead you to talk about yourself in order to understand you better, it's best to steer clear of comments that put you in a negative light. For example, don't talk about how you used to be a "wild child" or "rebel" or "party girl." It's also best to refrain from saying "I'm a typical Irish guy" or "my religion is very important" or "during baseball season I'm a maniac." You want the interviewer to focus on your professional skills, not your personal life that they may feel will interfere with your ability to do the job.
Finally, remember that it's the interviewer's job to make you feel comfortable so that he or she can really get to know you and your strengths and weaknesses. It's your job not to let your guard down so much that you think you're chatting with your best friend and say things you will come to regret.
How else can a job candidate prepare for an interview?