Another day, another job interview — and yet not one call back from a single employer.
You wonder: did you not have enough experience for the position? Was the positioned earmarked for someone else?
Sure, it could have been because of any of the above – but could it also have been because of something you said?
It’s a possibility.
Despite your practicing and preparing, however, you may have let something slip that you didn’t know was something that you weren’t supposed to say – something that would turn off any employer who’s looking for the top candidate for the position.
Not sure what it could have been? Here are a few things you should avoid saying that could instantly disqualify you from the job opportunity.
1. Asking questions about the company that you could easily find out from their website
If you don’t know much about the company, you come across as unprepared, Lee Weisser, senior career counsellor at Careers By Design, says.
“You need to do your research beyond the company website and explore in the media about recent accomplishments and challenges for the company and the industry,” Weisser says. “As a potential employee you want to position yourself as someone who can help the company address their current business challenges.”
2. Talking about your accomplishments with “I did” instead of “We did”
Yes, it’s important to highlight your personal skills and discuss your accomplishments, but it’s how you discuss them that will stick out to an employer, Weisser says.
“While it’s very important to make sure you highlight your personal skills, it’s also essential to demonstrate that you work well as part of a team and are able to give credit to the team for results when appropriate,” Weisser says.
When an employer asks you to tell them about yourself, they don’t want to know about your children or your pets, Weisser points out.
“They want to know how your education and experience will be a good fit for the role and the company,” she says. “Make sure you stay focused on relevant information.”
4. Bad-mouthing a previous boss
It may be tempting to talk about the horrible supervisor you just got away from, but you will come across as a person who is difficult to work with, Weisser explains.
If the interviewer asks why you left your previous position, do not make comments that imply you are unable to handle conflict, she adds.
5. “I was fired from my last job”
This statement immediately raises a lot of questions and concerns, Angela Payne, general manager at Monster Canada, says.
“If you indeed get fired, you don’t have to offer that information,” she says. “Especially depending on the reason.”
6. No cursing
“Even if the interviewer chooses to use certain colourful words, it’s best not to do so yourself,” Payne says. “When meeting someone for the first time, it’s important to leave a clean and crisp first impression and that includes the language you use.”
Swearing, Payne adds, can be off-putting and is most likely inappropriate in the workplace you’re seeking to be in.
7. “Can I work from home?”
Certain industries and companies allow their staff to work from wherever they want. However, in an interview, let the interviewer bring up a work-from-home policy, Payne advises.
This way you avoid any impression that you’d prefer not to be in the office or may not be committed to the workplace.
8. “I don’t have experience, but I’m a fast learner”
“Showing that you’re eager and willing to learn is definitely a good thing, but admitting you don’t have any experience can be a bit of a road block,” Payne says. “If you find that you don’t have the required experience, another way to tackle this is by listing out the soft and hard skills you’ve developed at school or in any volunteer and extra-curricular experiences.”
Drawing those parallels for the interview is important, so don’t assume the interview will do that for you, she adds.
9. “I don’t have any questions”
One question that is most likely a given at the end of any interview is the “Do you have any questions,” question.
This, Payne says, is your opportunity to show that you have come prepared and have researched the role for which you’ve applied.
Saying you don’t have any questions also shows that you can’t think fast on your feet and might not be invested in the company.
How to redeem yourself
Don’t panic if you’ve found yourself breaking one of the above nine rules — there’s still a way to redeem yourself.
“Acknowledge your mistake as soon as you realize it,” Payne says. “If it’s during an interview, find a way to circle back, correct yourself and provide clarification.”
If you realize your mistake after the interview, however, you can follow up by email to say thank you for the consideration and time, and then apologize or explain your mix up.
“The best that you can do is be honest and upfront instead of avoiding it all together,” she says.