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Resource: Resume Info
7 Interview Taboos
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Everyone puts on a professiaonl persona in an interview to be as impressive as possible. At the same time, you want to show the interviewer a side of you that shows your personality. Nevertheless, no matter how comfortable you feel in an interview you should never lessen your sense of formality and slip up with things that you wouldn't say to someone you just met--especially if they are deciding on whether you get a job.

Don't learn the hard way of making these mistakes:

1) "I love that top!"
Flattery gets you nowhere. The interviewer knows and expects you to try to get on his good side so don't ruin it by overdoing it. They're pros and picking out who's genuine and who's trying too hard. You lose some of your professional credit as well by crossing that boundary. Maintain a comfortable distance; remember they're not your friend but a business opportunity. This can also be taken the wrong from a man complimenting a woman as it might be taken as sexist or derogatory regardless of how pure the intention. Most of all you'll seem like you're sucking up rather than being genuine. If you really want to go the extra mile in complementing then do a little research into their professional achievements rather than something superficial as their attire.

Say: "I enjoyed the piece about your corporate acheivements in the paper."

2) "I've never experienced anything as challenging and it still gets to me sometimes."
Pointing out your weaknesses that you haven't learned from or haven't made you stronger is almost like interview suicide. You don't want and interview to think of you as unstable or easily broken. Employers want to recruit people who are resilient under high-pressure situations. Crying or breaking down shows them that you're an emotional ticking time bomb. Being human is understandable, but keeping composure is crucial in a professional setting. Avoid telling emotional stories and moving stories worth sharing should be practiced so as not to get choked up.

Say: "That was tough to get through, but we did it."

3) "Just getting around is a challenge with my knee."
Sounds a little like you're seeking sympathy, wouldn't you agree? Again, it's another focus on a weakness. You don't want to give the interviewer the impression that you're faced with tons of debilitating factors. If it's something relevant like a gap in your resume due to a serious injury or illness but don't just complain about being sick. Something that otherwise would go unnoticed unless you brought it up, leave it that way. Why go out of your way to mention something that the interviewer probably doesn't need to know? Plus, you're putting them in an awkward position to offer you consolation or commiseration and another breach of professional boundaries.

Say: "I took some time off to recuperate from surgery and have been back to normal since."

4) "I'm so glad to be gone from my previous job; my boss was such a pain."
Complaining about your last employer is definitely an interview taboo. Bad mouthing says little about your character a lot about your bad attitude. Unless your problems played a valuable role in perseverance or overcoming challenges it's best to leave them in that past where they belong. Hanging on to them reveals both immaturity and lack of growth. The interviewer wants to hear positive things about you; your abilities to solve problems and work through obstacles. If you merely complain about them without offering how you reached a solution you're not making yourself look like a promising candidate. Make sure to highlight how you worked with your team in defeating these problems and turned a negative into a positive. Be inspiring!

Say: "I've had a lot of obstacles come my way but I've been able to successfully work through them."

5) "Oh you have kids? I love kids!"
Don't force rapport with the interviewer by pointing out something personal out and trying to relate. Keep your focus on why you're there and what your goal is. You're there to sell yourself as an investment they should make, that you're a good addition to their company. But if you're too busy trying to force a connection with them, they're going to see the show you're putting on. Get to the point and bring up things that interviewer will find interesting rather than finding a talking point to get them to like you. If pauses in the conversation are just too unbearable for you then it's perfectly fine to stick to small talk. Your words can't be taken back so sometimes saying too much in an interview can be worse than not saying enough.

Say: "This is a great building. How long has your company been here?"

6) "Nope, I'm good thanks. Hope to hear from you!"
When an interviewer asks if you have any questions the answer should always follow with another question. No matter the question, you should always have one. As the interview wraps up think about what you want to know and keep the interview going, not in a way that is stalling, but to keep the interviewer engaged in the conversation. Even though they are the interviewer, they get bored by having to do all the work. Asking questions also shows that you're really interested in the position rather than expecting to be handed a job just for showing up. An impressive question speaks volumes over a good answer because it showed you came prepared and ready to give them 100%. The question you ask also gives them an insight to how you think and allows two-way communication. It turns into an actual conversation as opposed to the interviewer prying answers out of you.


Say: "I've noticed that your company's growth increased exponentially over the last two years. What do you think it was that gave it that boost?"

7) "They fired me at my last job."
While that may have been the case, saying it so matter-of-factly makes it sounds worse and shows that that's how you see it, too. Instead, soften it up and give reasonable support for why you were let go. If you tell the interviewer that your previous employer just decided to can you without providing them with a clarifying explanation, leaving them to wonder will not be in your favor. Remember to keep the tone positive and whatever you do, never resort to lying--that could turn things very ugly and it's not a risk you want to take. Not only will they not hire you, but it could also damage your reputation and prevent other companies from considering you for positions. Be clear in your explanation about your termination from your last job and describe the good things that came
out of it while working there and after leaving.

Say: "My previous position wasn't a good fit but I was able to learn a great deal about my strengths and capabilities during my time there, and I want to use those in my future pursuits."