1. “My last boss was terrible.”
Never say negative things about your past coworkers, managers or bosses. Since outsiders don’t know the whole situation, you risk looking like you are the troublemaker. Also, the interviewer might know the people you are talking ill about. Worse, he might actually be good friends with them. That never makes for a good impression.
2. “I’ll do anything you want.”
Employers hire people for their specific skills and strengths. Showing any sign of desperation will turn off the employer. They will worry that if they hire you, you will leave for a better job since you were so desperate. Being flexible in your role is essential to your career success, but that is very different from coming on too strong about how much you need a job.
3. “It’s on my resume.”
Interviewers have multiple candidates, and it is hard to keep track of the details of all of them. Some interviewers might not have the chance to review your resume. The interview is your chance to help them understand why you are the right person for the job. Plus, wouldn’t it be anyway better to be thorough with your resume? You wrote it, after all.
4. “I don’t have much experience but…”
Don’t focus on the negatives. Your job is to convince them to hire you! Concentrate on your personal achievements that demonstrate willingness to learn, persistence, and interpersonal skills. Your achievements can be in school, a team project, volunteering, or part-time work. Your job is to make them understand that your lack of experience will not affect your performance.
5. “My greatest weakness is striving for perfection.”
This has been said many times before to interviewers. What it might mean to the employer is that you are inefficient and take too long to accomplish a task. In business, efficiency and quality are the key, not perfection (unless you work for Apple or another company famous for perfection). Remember, in most cases, done is better than perfect.
6. “I think outside the box.” or “I’m a team player.”
Employers are tired of hearing these things from candidates. Instead, you need to back these statements up with concrete examples. “I started an accounting system for the startup I worked for last year by finding the right application and filling in our financial transactions.” sounds better. Claiming you’re good at something and not giving the employer a reason to believe you, will probably land you nowhere.
7. “Um, I don’t know.”
When an unexpected question stumps you, you should ask for a minute. Good interviewers will appreciate a well-composed answer after a minute rather than a jumbled answer you blurt out. Sometimes, coming to an answer isn’t everything. Think out loud. Let employer know what your thought process is, and how you approach a problem. Logical thinking and attempting to solve a problem might just come in handy to impress the employers. H
8. “How much vacation time do I get?”
You haven’t even started working and you’re thinking of holidays already?
9. “How soon will I be promoted?”
Like the last question, the interviewer will feel like you are focusing on the benefits for yourself. You have not even contributed to the organization in any way and already asking for a promotion.
Instead, you can ask “Can you tell me the typical career path in this company for someone in this position?” This shows that you are committed to staying at the company for the long haul.
10. “Do you know when we’ll be finished here?”
Expect your interview to take at least 60 minutes. Do not schedule anything before 3 hours after the start time of your interview.
What to do if your interview goes way past the scheduled time, and you have to go? You should graciously say, “I’m so glad you have taken the time to meet with me. I have to leave for my next class in 15 minutes. I wish I can stay longer. What else would you like to know about me? I would be happy to fill in any gaps before I go.”
If you are a student, interviewers will understand you will have classes and exams that you should not miss. Another option is to excuse yourself to the washroom and see if you can reschedule your next appointment.
11. “I’m going through a tough time right now.”
Interviewers are not interested in your problems or your personal life. They will sympathize with you, at some level, yes, but on a professional level, they will worry that your personal problems will affect your work performance.
12. “I am following up again.”
If you follow up with your interviewers too many times, you will seem desperate, and you will annoy them. After your interview, send a thoughtful follow up note. After 2 weeks, you can follow up again to ask for the timeline for the hiring decision. After a month, you can send a final email reiterating your interest and ask if a hiring decision has been made.
An employer is not going to forget about hiring a great candidate. The hiring process might be stuck in bureaucracy. If they are interested in hiring you, you will know about it.
13. “Um, I was, like, the team captain of the, um, school football team.”
Using too many interjections such as “um” or “like” will make you sound less confident. Interviewers will have trouble understanding your main points. Practice your answers to common interview questions. Pause to think before you answer.
14. “No, I don’t have any questions.”
If you don’t have any questions for the employer, you risk looking like you are uninterested in the job. After all, you have to spend most of your time there, you should be curious. You can ask about the company culture, your manager’s managing style, the challenges facing the team, and the goals of the company.
15. “I went to Disneyland last summer.”
Steer away from bringing up personal stories unless your interviewer asks you for more details. Some interviews might be very informal (especially startups). You might connect with the interviewer by sharing personal stories, but that is very rare. Unless you’re making a point towards the end, don’t spiral out of control with your stories.