Job interviews can be stressful for everyone involved. The interviewer feels pressure to make the best hire, and the candidate can feel like they are being put under a microscope. It’s not hard to see why so many of us have horror stories of answers we botched, questions we forgot to ask, or a host of other things we’d love to do over.
In the pantheon of dumb things to say in a job interview, we all know the classics: bringing up salary right away, speaking poorly of your former employer, and the inexcusable “Excuse me while I take this call.”
Here are five more items to add to that list. I just need a job.
Gaye Weintraub, a career counselor in Houston, says she’s been hearing this one a lot lately as more and more people search for jobs. “This is absolutely one of the worst things a candidate can tell a potential employer, even if it's true!” Employers are searching for new hires that genuinely want to work in that position with that company. Weintraub added, “They want employees who will thrive in the position and remain loyal to the company.” What's in it for me?
This question, out loud, would obviously be a horrible thing to say in an interview. What if you’re saying this, however, without actually saying it? Management consultant Barry Maher was involved in an unfortunate interview like this recently. “The first three questions from the applicant were, in order: ‘How much vacation time do I get? How long do I have to be here before I'm eligible for a vacation? How long before I start to accrue additional weeks of vacation?’ What had looked like a great applicant, now looked like someone who couldn't wait to get out of work.” The same goes for questions about benefits, how soon you’ll get a promotion, or any other scenario that looks like you want to get more out of the job than you will give to it.
I'm also interviewing with ________.
According to Lauren Milligan, founder and CEO of ResuMAYDAY, you shouldn’t mention other interviews you’ve scheduled or other companies you might want to work for. “Letting the interviewer know that you are interviewing elsewhere immediately makes them less interested in you. Companies don't want to compete for your enthusiasm. Even if you are interviewing elsewhere, make them feel that you have a laser beam focus on them, and no one else.” Mentioning other interviews won’t make you seem sought-after; it will make you seem unprofessional.
There is no excuse for not having any questions for the interviewer. “Interviews are two-way streets. The company wants to know if you are match for them. You want to know if the company is a match for you. When that point comes in the interview, it's your chance to find out,” says Mic Fleming. The principal at YESShr suggests questions like: What do you like best about this company?, Is there anything else you need to know about my application that we haven't covered?, or something highlighting the company’s accomplishments. Fleming added, “At least flatter me that you've done some homework about the company.”
The wrong name.
Take the time to make certain you know the name of your interviewer. You don’t want to start off the interview process by asking the receptionist that you’re there to talk with “maybe David? Donald?” By the time he or she tracks down the correct person, everyone will know you weren’t prepared. This small step seems trivial but it is absolutely vital.