You get a call from the HR department and learn you’ve finally landed the big interview. You’re well prepared. You’ve done online reputation repair and scrubbed YouTube of any embarrassing videos there might be of you. You’ve put together a portfolio of your best projects, and you’ve used your final dwindling funds on buying a nice suit. You’ve printed up resumes and sheathed them in protective covers, you’ve shaved, showered, prayed, and now, you’re ready. Months and months of unemployment could be about to come to an end. Now don’t ruin it by saying something stupid at your interview! Here are five things NOT to say to a potential employer:
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I really need a job. Any deviation of this is bad – I need money, I’ll do anything, I’ll work for cheap. This is not a welfare agency, it’s a place of business. You should be offering reasons why you’ll be a valuable asset to the company, not whining about your bad luck or trying to guilt-trip them into hiring you.
How long are lunch breaks? Just assume that it’s a normal job and management will allow a reasonable amount of time for you to nourish your body with food. Asking this question, as opposed to any number of legitimate queries about the company you’re hoping will hire you, makes you look petty. The employer is thinking—this is really all he/she is thinking about, the lunch break?
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I smoke. This is shorthand for telling an employer that you’re going to take extra breaks. Everyone knows that smokers are masterful at squeezing in multiple five minute breaks into the workday. Even if you do smoke, don’t admit it in the interview. You’ll have to keep your smoke breaks minimal, if at all, and find a way to control the smell.
My last boss and I didn’t get along. Avoid talking about past failures in general, especially as they relate to previous jobs. Your new potential employer doesn’t want to get nervous about you during the interview. You should be highlighting your upsides, not talking talking about your possible downsides. If you got laid off or fired from a previous job, only discuss it if the story relates to an issue of professionalism or procedure that will make you look knowledgeable.
I can’t start until next month. This one is self-explanatory. Many times employers will give you ample time to prepare for a job, but sometimes they need you to start right away. If you’re not ready to work, don’t go into the interview.
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There are any number of deviations of these phrases that are equally unprofessional. The basic idea is that during a job interview you want to be presenting yourself in the best light possible. Any utterance that makes you seem frivolous could cost you the job.
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Good luck in your search,