Five Interview Responses to Avoid
By Michelle Joseph
Interviews are a great way to showcase your personality to a potential employer. Drive and ambition are good qualities, but they need to be communicated in the right way. Over-coached or uneasy responses can make or break an interview.
The Positive Negative
“What is your weakness?” This is a very common interview question that sets the candidate up for a ‘Positive Negative’ response. There are many cliché responses to avoid with this type of question. For instance: “I tend to take on too many things at once.” This may seem like you’re presenting strong multitasking abilities, when realistically, it’s showing that you overextend yourself and never say no. “I’m a perfectionist, tasks tend to take me longer to complete,” is an overused and ambiguous response.
When thrown curveball questions that do not have an easy or apparent answer; don’t panic, and above all, don’t tell the interviewer you don’t have an answer. This is a great time to show you can think on your toes and prove your creativity. When asked “What would someone who doesn’t care for you, say about you?” Don’t say:“I don’t think anyone dislikes me.” Don’t be afraid to answer with a dash of humor when appropriate.
It’s never in good taste to bad-mouth your previous boss, position, or the company. Always present things in the most positive light. Another thing to avoid saying is that you and the company “mutually agreed to part ways,” it sounds as though you had no choice in the matter and you were fired or were about to be fired. Honesty is always the best policy. Responses should always be truthful, for example: you didn’t see eye to eye with your manager, or the environment was unhealthy, etc.
The Obligatory Question
When asked, “Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?” Consider your audience; your response should be thoughtful and avoid sounding arrogant. This question is asked to determine if your intentions are to be short-term or long-term with the company. Telling the interviewer your plans to move to Rwanda for the Peace Corps in two years, is no doubt an admirable mission, but shows the employer your time there has an expiration date. On the other hand, don’t prove your long-term commitment with the company by telling the person across from you that you want their position in three months time.
When asked to tell a little bit about yourself, do just that, a little bit. This does not mean you should tell the interviewer all personal aspects of your life. While this seems obvious, it is a common mistake many make in their response. This question is more or less for you to tell them why you fit at the company, and how your experiences make you the right candidate for the role.
Michelle Joseph is a a talent acquisition expert and the CEO of PeopleFoundry.
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