Things Never To Say During An Interview

Not sure what to say during a job interview? Here are some things you should never bring up when discussing a job opening.

Everyone gets nervous during a job interview. No matter how much we plan and prepare, there are sure to be unexpected questions and uncomfortable pauses that may be hard to fill. The greatest risk, however, lies in saying something inappropriate during a lull in the discussion. Before putting your foot in your mouth and losing that sought-after job, memorize this list of topics to avoid:

1. Never criticize a former employer. No matter how poorly you were treated, it is unwise to point the finger at someone from your previous job unless it is absolutely necessary. For one thing, the person interviewing you may feel you are disloyal. For another, you may be perceived as someone who whines or may be unable to hold a job due to misperceptions. Your listener may realize that one side of the story is inadequate for understanding the situation, and perhaps give your past employer the benefit of a doubt. Nothing good can come from talking down another organization, so keep mum about it.

2. Never talk about how much you need the job. If you pour out a sob story to try and win the interviewer's sympathy, you are most likely signing your death warrant with the company. People simply do not want to hire someone they feel sorry for. They would much rather find an employee they admire or someone they can depend on to get the job done. Making yourself out to be a victim may get your scooted out the door in a hurry.

3. Never impose conditions on your taking a position. Avoid making statements about possible problems that might interfere with your getting to work on time or staying there. For example, don't bring up the fact that your ten-year-old has frequent doctor's appointments for a chronic ear condition unless you are certain you will have to miss work often because of it. Nor should you raise potential problems that might never develop, since the interviewer will perceive these as red flags and place your application at the bottom of the stack, especially if there are other qualified candidates who are available and less encumbered.

4. Never emphasize your weaknesses. Don't bring up six months of poor work attendance at a previous job following a car accident that required twice-a-week rehabilitation therapy. After all, it was a one-time event and hopefully will not recur. There is no sense in planting doubts in a prospective employer's mind unless you must. Although you may be asked questions like "What is your greatest weakness?," you can answer it with a positive statement:

"I tend to get over committed to job-related projects and work overtime on occasion. But I'm getting better about setting boundaries in my personal life."

5. Never use careless language. Avoid jokes, puns, coarse jesting, racial slurs, and other kinds of inappropriate diction. Even if you feel comfortable with your interviewer, you want to show your best side while being considered for employment, and even afterward if hired. Use everyday speech and a conversational tone without including slang. Also make a point of excluding sexist language, clich├ęs, or excessive euphemism to the point that your speech sounds stilted or awkward.

Your interview may last one hour or several, but it is the only time you will have to make a lasting impression on your prospective employer. Put a guard on your tongue to avoid botching this unique opportunity.

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