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Five Job Interview Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

Five Job Interview Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

Everyone knows the major job interview no-no’s: showing up late, asking about salary and benefits, being unprepared to ask questions about the company. Yet there are other, more subtle ways that women sabotage themselves in job interviews, often in an effort to seem pleasant and agreeable. The problem is, these mistakes don’t impress interviewers, and often lead to lower offers.

Here are five of the most common mistakes women make without even realizing it.

1. Complimenting the interviewer’s appearance
You might be tempted to say that you love her glasses or her shoes, but don’t. Mentioning an interviewer’s physical appearance can appear unprofessional, and create the impression that you aren’t serious. Focus your compliments on professional achievements and save the “I love your shoes!” for after you get the job.

2. Saying “I don’t know” or “I’ve never”
When an interviewer asks about something you don’t have experience with, it’s natural to want to admit it. Employers value a willingness to learn so instead of highlighting your inexperience by saying, “Well, I’ve never been in a situation like that,” or “I don’t really know,” answer in a way that affirms that you want to — and can — learn how to handle those scenarios. This is a good time to discuss the company’s training and development programs as well. Many companies are committed to investing in their employees, and showing interest in those opportunities can work in your favor. Plus being able to highlight hands-on experience while you earned an advance degree will definitely help.

3. Trying to be all things to all people
When an interviewer asks what you can bring to the organization, saying, “Whatever you need,” or similar phrases won’t do yourself any favors. Such responses undervalue your skills, and more importantly, set up unreasonable expectations. The interviewer might think you will accept any offer, thereby eliminating your advantage in negotiations. Instead, focus on your strengths, and be specific about what you can and want to do in your career.

4. Adding disclaimers to answers
Don’t downplay your accomplishments, no matter how small or insignificant you think they may be. If you answer an interviewer’s questions with phrases like, “Well, it’s kind of a silly example . . .” or “The company I worked for was really small, but . . .” you’re undermining yourself. Be proud of what you have done, and don’t skew the interviewer’s perception by adding a disclaimer.

5. Speaking in terms of “We”
Employers value team players. However, if you talk about everything you’ve done in terms of “we” accomplished this or that, the interviewer won’t have a clear picture of who you are and what you can offer. They aren’t hiring a team; so instead focus on your role within the team and what you personally did.

Most of these mistakes aren’t necessarily interview-killers, but they do influence the interviewer’s perception of you, and the offers you receive. Learn to avoid them, and you’ll come across confident and competent in your next interview.