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For Your Next Job Interview, Here are 6 Things You Should Avoid Bringing Up Plus Tips on Giving Winning Interview Responses

So you have an interview pretty soon. First things first, congrats on winning a spot! You sent out a well thought-out CV and you were called. Not an easy feat.

Now comes the next chapter. Are you as good as your CV says you are?

Interviews can be some of the hardest parts of the job seeking process. This holds especially true for the naturally nervous and the socially clumsy, as well as those who just don’t cope well with pressuring social situations.

Quite understandable because selling yourself to a potential employer is tough, so it’s no wonder people get nervous. But even if you’re as cool as a cucumber going into the interview, you could still hurt your chances with subtle blunders. If any of these descriptions fit you, we understand your worries. The good news is you don’t have fall into this trap of giving away unnecessary info at an interview.

This week, here are 6 common things you shouldn’t bring up to a potential employer even if you are at a loss for words.

1. Sharing personal or romantic stories that touch

The interviewer will ask you to tell them a little about yourself, but this means where you went to school, what you accomplished in school, where you have worked, and how you have helped your former employers. It can include a little about hobbies and volunteer work, but don’t dwell on these things.

But this is not the time to start listing all of your very personal plans and that heartbreak that left you half alive.

Your dating status should not be vocalized. Giving too much background information on your family is also not good. Was your mother sick and you had to take care of her for a while? Sorry, you can’t bring that up in an interview — it may look like playing the sympathy card.

Of course there are exceptional cases where personal stories endear you to the interviewer. But basically, personal details not only make the interviewer uncomfortable, but they take the focus off of your competence in the workplace.

2. Showing desperation

“I really need this job”.

Don’t we all? But here’s the problem with this statement – It smirks of desperation. The worst part of this is that it is the gospel truth and it could easily be blurted out in an interview.

But it is best to try not to give any indication of desperation. And definitely do not say that you really need this job due to your current circumstances. Employers may view desperation as a sign of weakness, and, again, they want employees who are seeking a long-term career, not merely a job.”

3. Your Nervousness

If you enter a room and suddenly you lose your levelheadedness, avoid blurting out these words: “I’m nervous”.

Why would you say that even if it’s true? A moment ago, you were probably sure of yourself. A moment ago, the interviewer thought they observed a cool-headed candidate, but now he’s a self-described bundle of nerves. Keep your anxiety to yourself. Don’t say you’re nervous, don’t say sheepishly that it’s been a while since you’ve been interviewed, don’t apologize or forewarn the interviewer about anything.

Even if you’re more nervous than you’ve ever been, no company wants to hire someone who lacks confidence. So, in this case, honesty is not the best policy.

4. Spewing dirt about your former workplace

When your interviewer lists what makes their company special, it’s really tempting to take that as a cue to speak ill of your former employer. But you should definitely avoid talking about your previous boss’ character, poor judgment, work or the company culture. That leaves a lasting impression of a negative and petty employee.

Without a doubt, they will reason that you will one day do the same to them and who wants that? If you are tempted to talk about your old company, keep talking about your old company at the level of what you learned and how you honed your skill set — nothing more. Avoid over-praise or insults.

5. Showing your Ignorance

We are all guilty of showing to potential employers what we don’t know and might never want to know. If you have ever used these words, ‘I’m a quick learner’ as an answer to an interview question, you may be guilty of being ignorant as well. You are essentially offering an empty promise that you could learn a job. What should they do with the other candidate that demonstrates the actual skills needed?

Just as you don’t volunteer negative stories, don’t volunteer showing missing skills or abilities.

Instead, if there is something in the job description you don’t have direct experience in, you need to demonstrate something you’ve already done or learned in order to compensate. Just telling of your intention is not enough.

Also if you do not  know how to answer a question and you really can’t think up a right answer, instead of an awkward stammer, pause or statement, buy some time to formulate an answer by rephrasing the question, or asking for clarification.

Just ask something. For example, you might say “Are you looking for an example of how I formulated key strategies to grow our ROI under six months?” By the time the interviewer replies, an answer may have come to mind.


6. Be careful when asked the time bomb question “What is your Weakness”

It’s the question that nobody likes except for hiring employers who ask it ever so often, which means that you should be ready to dish out an equally fire-bomb answer.

First of all, you do have a weakness – so never say “I don’t have any weakness.” That answer right there is exactly what an interviewer is looking for to eliminate someone from the process. Part of the strength of your answer will be your honesty and ability to demonstrate that you may not have every single skill you need to take up a position.

Now, the best way to bungle this question up will be to speak too quickly on any random weakness, “I blow hot when I’m angry” or “I’m not very organised” without adequately giving justifications for such answers. Okay fella, bye – should be the interviewer’s response.

The best answer to this question should be to realistically state your weakness (don’t overturn a strength into a weakness) and explain why it’s a weakness. Also explain how you plan to overcome that weakness, if you haven’t already. Use the question as an opportunity to explain how you hope to grow and develop in this new role.

Preparing Interview Responses

The interview is an elimination process.

Knowing how to answer the tough questions in a job interview in ways that are both honest and powerful can help you impress the interviewer and land the job. Goes without saying that you need to be ready for anything.

While there are definitely some questions you’ll hear again and again, it is in your best interest to prepare for the especially tough interview questions that will come at you quite unexpectedly.

Here are some tips on giving winning responses at job interviews:

1. Do your company research and find out the exact qualities this company is looking for. In your answer try and show the HR person you possess them. And do prepare and practice for the interview, but don’t memorize or over-rehearse your answers.

2. In addition, prepare questions of your own. Good job candidates want to know that the company to which they are applying is a good personal fit as well and employers prefer candidates that are inquisitive.

3. Make eye contact. It shows confidence and connects you with the interview. Remember the interviewer’s name, and use it when it is needed to stay engaged.

4.  Be outgoing. Be free and make loose personal connection. If you can connect with your interviewer in a personal way, they may think you would be an enjoyable person to have in the office or on the team.

5. Vulgar, violent, improper language, racist, sexist jokes and generally wrongly timed words will limit opportunities in pretty much everything in one’s life: the choice of a mate, the selection of a job, the building of a career, and the establishment of friendships.

6. Greet the receptionist or assistant with courtesy and respect. This situation is where you make your first impression with the members of the company. If winning responses don’t help, goodwill might. This is the power of first impressions.

7. Think before you speak! This might be the only chance you get to convince a prospective employer that you are the right person for the job. Your answers during the interview simply put will make or mar you.

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