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Interview Tips – what not to say at an interview

shaking hands interview

You’ve landed the interview you’ve been hoping for. You’ve agonised over your Linked In profile, and spent hours tweaking your CV. So far, so good. The company must like what they’ve seen so far. Now it’s time to talk yourself up. It’s important to remember just how much is involved in a job interview. In order to secure the position, you’ll need to impress in a variety of ways. Don’t be late, dress appropriately, and greet your prospective employer in a confident and professional manner. These are all basic interview tips.

And just as important as remembering what to say, there are a number of things that shouldn’t be said. Below you’ll find our interview tips, and the 7 things you should never say during an interview.

That You Want Their Job

Where do you see yourself in 5 years is a common interview question. You might be ambitious, hoping to progress, and have your eyes set firmly on the role of the person interviewing. But don’t say so. No boss in their right mind would want to hire someone they perceive as a threat. In any event, it’s certainly no way to endear yourself to someone. 

One of our most important interview tips, is to instead communicate your enthusiasm for general learning and advancement. Speak about the additional responsibilities you’d hope to hold by then. This shows how keen you are to develop, without coming across as arrogant.

That Your Greatest Weakness is Being a Perfectionist

During an interview, you might be asked to state your greatest weakness as an employee. It’s commonly suggested to answer that it’s that you’re a perfectionist. That way, you’ve responded to the question, but positively reframed it. So it’s a great response, right? Actually, wrong. This question really tests the honesty of an interviewee, as well as giving insight into their self-awareness.

A better response, would be to give an example of a real weakness that you’ve previously identified. Then you can explain how you overcame it and learned from the experience.

Your Age, Sexuality or Marital Status 

Certain personal information is entirely out of bounds for employers to base hiring decisions on. In fact, it’s illegal for them to do so. This includes your age, sexuality, marital status, and whether or not you have children. To avoid any chance of discrimination, it’s best to steer clear of these topics entirely, however fair and reasonable your interviewer may seem to be.

You may get on like a house on fire and feel tempted to share too much personal information. However, in most cases it’s best to save this level of detail for a chat with your mates, and steer clear of such private information during your interview. 

That You Aren’t Interviewing Elsewhere

It’s another standard interview question – “Are you interviewing for other roles?”. Put simply, your answer should never be no. At best you’d seem lazy, and at worst, a liar. Neither are positive attributes. It could be the case that this is your dream role, and the only one you would consider leaving your current employment for. However, this is not something that it’s advisable to share. It puts the power into the employer’s hands, and might reduce your chances of negotiating the best package if you do get the job.  

That This Job Will Look Great on Your CV

Having a certain company on your CV may make you infinitely more employable in the future. And this may well be one of the main reasons you’re so keen to get the job. But there’s absolutely nothing to be gained by pointing out any ambition beyond the company you’re interviewing for. Whilst employers nowadays don’t tend to assume people want a job for life, they also wouldn’t want to channel their efforts into an employee that plans to up and leave at the earliest opportunity. 

Focus instead on the positive attributes and achievements of the company, as well as any opportunities offered by the vacancy on offer. 

Criticism of Your Current Employer

You may currently have the worst boss in the world. But you shouldn’t say so. Openly criticising them will simply make you seem like a bad employee, and make the interviewer think twice about hiring you. Instead, focus on voicing reasons as to why you want this job, rather than reasons as to why you want to leave your current one. As interview tips go, this one’s an obvious win.

Anything That Proves You Haven’t Done Your Homework

We live in a digital age. There’s so much information available online, should you wish to find it. There’s no excuse for failing to thoroughly research a company you’re interviewing for. Asking a simple question such as “When were you founded?” simply proves that you haven’t done so and implies laziness and disinterest. So, ensure that you’re well prepared. 

With the right preparation, and following the right interview tips, there’s no reason why you can’t thoroughly ace it. But being aware of what you shouldn’t say is as crucial as remembering what you should. Take special care to provide high quality, genuine, detailed answers, whilst communicating your enthusiasm for the role and the company. 

It’s worth remembering that nothing in life is perfect. Slip-ups happen to the best of us. If during your interview, you say something not entirely advisable, by staying calm and navigating your way through, you may still get the outcome you are hoping for. After all, interviewers are people too.   

Mark Gill

By Mark Gill

Recruitment Director with a proven record of providing world class hires at all levels of office and management positions within the Leeds Bradford region. We use our unique Headway Recruitment Platform incorporating psychometric testing to find the top candidates. If you want access to the full local talent pool get in contact with the team at Headway. We help companies achieve growth through our unique approach. This ensures the candidates we place are the perfect fit. Companies are then best placed to get the best from each individual as they understand their motivating traits. Proud to be recognised as preferred supplier for several businesses in the Sunday Times top 100 firms to work for.
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