Landing a job interview is a huge success in the job search process. It means company representatives are inclined to think you might be a good fit for the open position. The interview’s your chance to prove them right.
So avoid interview killers that will inevitably prove them wrong. Below are some actual examples of what people said or asked during an interview that was likely one of the reasons for not receiving a job offer.
“I saw the tailgate pictures on your Facebook profile. Looks like the party was a lot of fun!” Social media provides employers and job seekers the opportunity to learn more details about each other. But commenting on your interviewer’s Facebook pictures crosses the line. Stick with LinkedIn, which is strictly used for professional purposes. Talk about recent discussions in LinkedIn groups that you both belong to.
“Does this job allow the opportunity to telecommute? What about job sharing?” You’ve just given the interviewer the impression that you’re not interested in working in the office or on a full-time basis. If the job posting mentions the position is a telecommuting or job share role, then it’s appropriate to ask how the logistics work. Otherwise, don’t attempt inventing a telecommuting position during the job interview.
“I love your skirt! That’s a great color for you.” Complimenting an employer’s physical appearance can be seen as inappropriate. If you’d like to pay a compliment, keep them professional, such as commenting on the company’s recent performance or the interviewer’s recent professional success.
“How much vacation time does this position have?” Chances are, this question is going to be answered at some point during the interview process. Bringing up vacation time, especially during the first interview, leads the employer to question your work ethic.
An exception is if you know of planned time off for an extended period of time (like a honeymoon), or a scheduled trip that conflicts with the job’s potential start date. But only bring up the subject when offered the position. Explain the situation to the employer and brainstorm ways to make the scheduled vacation work.
“My former boss was such a jerk and my coworkers were idiots.” Complaining about a former boss or colleagues only reflects poorly on you. It’s fine to talk about obstacles you faced in your job (ie, “In my previous position there were many challenging deadlines to meet.”). Just remember to focus on the positives (ie, “Having so many deadlines helped me develop my time management skills.”).
“What health care plan does your company offer?” Questions about benefits should never be asked during the first interview. If you require a particular benefit (such as a specific health care plan, daycare options, etc.), direct the questions to human resources rather than the interviewer.
“I apologize if I seem distracted. I have a huge headache.” Don’t complain about physical discomfort. You’ll establish a negative interview tone or be seen as setting up an excuse for not doing well during the interview. If you believe your physical ailment will prevent you from conducting a good interview, contact the employer to reschedule for another day.
“In five years I hope to have your job.” It’s one thing to show an employer you have goals when asked about your five-year plan. It’s another to give the impression you’re gunning for his or her job. Focus on how the company plays a role in your career ambitions.