A little nervousness is a good thing when you’re looking for a job. If I’m interviewing a college senior who isn’t a little anxious, I start to wonder about arrogance and entitlement (two common stereotypes regarding Generation Y). But sometimes, whether it’s nerves or general lack of preparedness, people say some pretty ridiculous things. So to make it easier, I thought I’d highlight some of the worst things a candidate can say during the interview process. These aren’t necessarily my top 3 worst things to say, but some of the more common phrases I’ve heard in the last two weeks.
“I just need to find a job.”
First, and most obviously, I already know this. Second, it reeks of desperation, which smells bad on anyone. Saying that transfers power to the interviewer. While many people already assume this imbalance, it’s actually not what interviewers are looking for. We want confident candidates who have many options but accept our offer because it’s the right fit. A close second to this phrase is “I heard you have jobs.”
“So tell me what you guys do.”
I hear it at career fairs all the time, but a surprising number of people ask this in interviews. Don’t ever go to an interview uninformed. But if you do run into an unfamiliar company at a career fair, it’s okay to ask what they do. Just don’t act casual. “I’m interested in learning more about your company,” or “Can you tell me what a typical day is like for one of your new hires?”
“My boss just didn’t like me that much.”
You must have an answer to the question “Why did you leave your last job?” If you’ve been fired, let go, or downsized, you’ll be asked about it. Even if your boss despised you, never admit it. Talk about the company reorg, your interest in pursuing something different, or anything else. Just don’t tell your employer (potentially your future boss) that a former colleague didn’t like you.