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6 things not to say in an interview and what to say instead

Posted by: Rebecca Craighill
Company News

Interviews are scary things and everyone is quick to tell you what not to say. But what should you say instead? Read on to find out.

“What do you do again?”

It’s vital that you do your research. You might apply to so many jobs that you manage to squeeze dozens of interviews into one week. So it’s easy to become complacent and not do your research. But that could be your downfall. Pre-interview prep is key to feeling confident and performing well in an interview. No matter how busy you are, take the time to familiarise yourself with a company. 

Don’t just scan their website – read their news, their blogs, their social media. Really throw yourself into their world. That way, when you walk in there, you’ll be asking questions like “I was really interested in that project you started last month. Can you tell me a little more about it?”

“What are your values?”

You could ask your interviewer what their company values are. Yes, they’ll like that you’re interested. But it will also tell them that you haven’t taken the time to find them out.

Instead, research a company’s values and demonstrate them in your interview. Company values are more than just buzz words, they’re designed to make a business a better place to work. At Navartis our values are ingrained in the business – Hunger For Growth, Positive Attitude, Honest, Quality, Work Ethic, Professionalism. They sit on everyone’s computer desktop ensuring they are front-of-mind for everyone in the company. Navartis performance reviews are measured by a recruiter’s ability to demonstrate company values. 

By knowing a business and its values you’ll be able to demonstrate the same values effortlessly by weaving them in and out of your responses. If a company’s values include honesty, hard work and positivity, take them seriously and demonstrate those qualities in your interview.

“What’s the pay?”

Try to avoid being the first party to bring up money, especially in the early stages. Asking questions about pay, holiday allowance and lunch breaks make you seem more concerned with getting out of work rather than getting through the door.

Instead, ask about the company’s professional development and how they measure targets. This highlights your interest in progress, and these key questions may even trigger the conversation about salary.

“I want to quit my job”

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t bad-mouth your current (or previous) employer to a prospective boss. All that does is make them question your professionalism. Even if you hate your job, keep this to yourself. 

Instead, you’re looking for a new role which will allow you to optimise your skill set. You want to work for this company because its values align with your own. Focus on the positive rather than the negative.

“I’m a perfectionist”

What’s your greatest weakness? They may as well be asking you why you don’t deserve the job, right? But an interviewer isn’t asking you what you’re bad at, they’re trying to find out how self-aware you are when it comes to your skill-set.

Rather than say something cliché along the lines of “I’m a perfectionist” or “I have unreasonably high standards of myself”, try to talk about a genuine weakness you have (or have had) in an area relating to the job. Then go on to explain how that weakness came about and how you identified it. This will demonstrate self-awareness and the interviewer will know that you are able to look at your work objectively and spot any areas for improvement. Finally, explain what steps you have taken (or are taking) to address and eliminate the weakness. That’s a tick in the box for problem-solving and shows that you take your professional development seriously.

 “I have other interviews lined up”

Don’t play games - now is not the time to play hard to get. If you tell an interviewer that you have other interviews lined up (which may or may not be true) it will seem like a game. Why should that concern them? A company isn’t going to hire you simply because a competitor might want to. 

We know you don’t want to come across as desperate but it’s important to tell a company how serious you are about the role and how much you’d like to join them on their journey. Of course, if you’re asked outright whether you’re interviewing elsewhere, be honest (see above) but don’t name names and simply state that you’re meeting with other companies about various opportunities.


Further Reading

5 ways to make a great over-the-phone first impression
6 essential interview questions you should always ask
6 ways to start your career when you don't have any experience
6 ways to prepare for phone & video interviews
7 tricky interview questions & how to tackle them

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