3 Things You Must NOT Mention in the Interview

This article is sponsored by Nate Sterling. 

Have you ever left the interview room with that upbeat feeling of euphoria, the one where you think, “Wow, I think I just might have the job, I nailed all the questions about the work activities”? But then you wait for a month, then two, and sadly, never get a call back?

Answering questions about the on-the- job activities aren’t the only ingredient to securing that plum position with the plush new office. It takes a lot more and besides the things you do say, there are some things you must never mention.

Apart from your knowledge of the job, there are several things you need to avoid saying to ensure your prospective employer sees you as a valuable asset to the organization. Even though there are many more on the list, here are a few of the most common ones I’ve noted while conducting interviews or recapping an interview from clients. Whatever you say, never mention these verbal blunders:

I really hate my job:

Trust me, saying “I really hated my last job” might sound stupid and incredible now, but you’ll be surprised what people will say when under pressure and in the heat of an intense job interview session.

The individual who said this was actually referring to a question where she was asked about why she wanted to leave her previous career at a Nursing home, after bagging a degree in IT and applying at a leading IT firm.

Granted it was a different career path entirely, and she did hate the job just as much as she stated, but the statement simply planted a seed of doubt in the mind of the interviewer. One of the sacred rules of any interview is to ALWAYS be positive. People are naturally drawn to positive mindsets. Even if you were a leading candidate based on your knowledge of the job, that attitude simply repels employers. It would be better in her case to say “I loved working with my patients at the hospital but I simply felt it was time for a change in my career.”

I don’t know:

You never thought it would come, did you? The day you’d be forced to say “I don’t know”. You were probably a straight ‘A’ student in class, have had years of valuable work experience, and you know everything about your career. But, as much as we hate to think so, the time does come when we have to concede our helplessness at the mercy of a question we have no idea how to answer. Sometimes, we might even know the answer to the question but conveniently experience a temporary brain fart at the worst possible time.

Well, the first option for most people when we don’t have the answer to a question would simply be to say ” I don’t know”, but that statement doesn’t exactly speak well of your problem solving skills. You can make the best of this situation in an interview scenario by following these guidelines:

  • Stay calm and resist the urge to fall apart into an emotional spiral; it won’t help the current situation, besides there are probably loads of other questions to redeem yourself.
  • Keep up a confident posture even if you’re unable to come up with a satisfactory answer to the question. Confidence, even in the face of defeat, is a quality that every employer admires. Remember the same question that gave you fits will probably prove difficult to other candidates as well.
  • Stall for more time to come up with a satisfactory answer if possible. You can repeat the question to the interviewer and ask for a clarification. You might not need the clarification, but the brief pause just buys you a few extra seconds to put things together up there.
  • If all attempts to come up with an answer during the interview fail, don’t worry, all is not lost. You still have the opportunity of finding an answer and including it in the text of your follow-up thank you note after the interview.

I have a vacation scheduled for that week:

Yes, we all love our vacations but if you’re really looking for a new job, then you shouldn’t be scheduling any interviews around the time of your vacation in the first place.

A lady got a great offer from a prime employer after doing excellently well in both the phone and in-person interviews. It was a new role and step up in her career path; she was really excited to get the opportunity, apart from the improved benefits to which she was entitled. But, to sour things, she was required to start the same week that she had scheduled a vacation.

She had a tough decision to make between shelving her vacation, or telling her new bosses about the situation and pushing for a postponement of her resumption. She opted to request for a postponement of her resumption by two weeks. The company decided they needed someone urgently and unfortunately for my client, decided the problems they needed solved couldn’t wait for the vacation to be over. The verbal employment offer was withdrawn and the board went with a candidate who had come a close second place in the selection process.

Bad for my client, but a fantastic twist of luck for the guy who finally got the job. Lesson of the day: Never make any requests for time off until you’re actually an employee of the company, especially if it’s an offer you’re unwilling to snub.

Author: Nate Sterling has at different times worked with international organizations such as IBM, Price Water House Coopers and USAID over a 25 year span. He is the author of Job Interview Blueprint.

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