How to prepare for job interviews

Interviews offer you the chance to make a good first impression to set you apart from the other candidates. Here are nine pitfall sentences you should be careful to use in an interview without good reason or planning that can help you prepare for job interviews (Courtesy of Recruitment Grapevine):

Generic statements about skill sets and work ethic often seem to be the bread-and-butter of interviews, but how can a savvy recruiter steer their candidate away from time-filler statements and ensure a positive impact?

A panel of career coaches assembled by Forbes have revealed their picks for the worst sentences to say in a job interview, and which statements will cause an employer to become disengaged from a candidate.

1. “I have XYZ skill”

“‘Telling it’ instead of ‘selling it’ statements. Just saying that you have a skill is not interesting. Offering proof that you have a skill is interesting. Giving examples of past successes in a ‘challenge-action-result’ format is an easy way to sell the interviewer on your experience.” – Charlotte Weeks, Weeks Career Services.

So be prepared to elaborate in the interview if you mention a skill and try to tie it into situations that the prospective employer will relate to in their business. A bit of research about the company may help you match certain skill sets that you shine in they may be looking for or where you can add value to the role that is over and above the advertised role.

2. “I’d be happy to recite my resumé to you…”

“When hiring managers ask you to ‘tell me about yourself’, that is not an invitation to recite your entire employment history. Your answer needs to be focused on them and their needs. Develop a response that addresses the question behind the question: ‘Are you someone who will be a good fit within our organisation’s culture and who has what it takes to succeed?'” – Laura Powers, Powers Career Coaching.

It’s also not always the obvious things they want to hear. Personal activities such as sport, outdoor pursuits, arts, and entertainment can also show a breadth to your character. These can be ways you unwind from stresses, how you focus and find solutions to problems at work that need solving. They add value to your character that may not always be possible to explain in a meaningful way in a CV.

3. “I didn’t visit your website”

“Prospective employers are keen to hear candidate questions as they often telegraph interest and initiative. However, if the answer to your question is easily found online, it may indicate a lack of preparation or initiative — potential negatives that are easily avoided by reviewing a company’s website, social media sites and news mentions in advance of the interview.” – Carol Camerino, Camerino Consulting.

Knowledge is key here. Do your research as early as you can. See if you can see the goals and aspirations of the company and where it’s heading. How could you with your skillset take them along that journey? Is there a particular ethos, social post or blog article they have published online that catches your eye? If so mention it and illustrate how it resonates with your goals and skills. This will not only illustrate you’ve spent time looking into their company but that you look deeper than just the surface.

4. “What do I have to do to get promoted, and how long does it take?”

“When a candidate immediately asks about future jobs, it is a red flag that they aren’t interested in the job that is open. A good hire, for both the candidate and employer, is when there is a match between the employer’s needs, job responsibilities, culture, etc. and the candidate’s competence, work ethic, work style and desire for the job.” – Julie Kantor, JP Kantor Consulting.

It’s true we all work to earn money but the employer needs to know you want to work for them as a team player and not just as a meal ticket looking for upgrades. After all your career should include personal fulfillment as well as a paycheck.

5. “This is a never-ending sentence”

“Want to see an interviewer’s eyes glaze over? Start a response and continue for a period extending over 45 to 60 seconds — without re-engaging the person — and you’ll have a bored interviewer on your hands. Most questions will not require lengthy responses and, if they do, do some mock interview work to practice re-engaging with the hiring manager periodically to keep the conversation going.” – Emily Kapit, ReFresh Your Step.

Everything you say needs to link to the company/employer/interviewer. Whether that’s particular working scenarios, social interests you share with the interviewer, or areas you can see they are moving towards. Your interview is giving you the opportunity to create a ‘nice fit’ response in the interviewers’ mind with the added extra they are looking for. So keep the responses concise and always link them back to engage the interviewer as often as you can.

 6. “I’m a team player and a hard worker”

“Don’t offer hollow, rote responses to common interview queries. Rather, address strengths-based questions by articulating how you took action, channelled your talents and gained positive (and hopefully quantifiable) results for former employers. Be brief, yet specific, and ensure your answers illustrate how your strengths will translate to profit-generating value.” – Kim Monaghan, KBM Coaching & Consulting.

Ideally, you need to plan this out and pick examples of how you’ve achieved this type of profit generating action. Try to pick scenarios that correlate to the role you are interviewing for. You should be trying to illustrate strong leadership, careful planning, tangible gains while highlighting some of your key strengths along the way.

 7. “No, I don’t have any questions about the position or company”

“When a candidate doesn’t have any questions about the job, company or work environment, this sends a message to the hiring manager that the candidate hasn’t invested time into researching their company. It also tells them the candidate is not assertive. A candidate who has no questions about the job is an open invitation for a recruiter to mentally check out from the interview.” – Jessica Miller-Merrell, Blogging4Jobs.

If you do your research then you should have a number of questions you can note down. Use some of them in the interview but save a couple for the end. They need to feel you always want to know and want to continue the interview. Interviews can be stressful but really focus on this and your true potential can be seen.

 8. “How much vacation time do I start with and what are my hours?”

“A good, direct marketing copywriter can take the text and spin it to make sure every ‘I, me, us and we’ becomes ‘you’, because the reader only cares about what’s in it for them. So when you go in saying things like ‘how much vacation time do I start with?’ and ‘what are my hours?’, it turns off the interviewer. Remove yourself from the equation and come from a place of service, and the job is yours.” – Tracy Repchuk, InnerSurf International.

Interviewers will see through questions such as this from the outset. Your requirement in the interview is to pitch yourself and your skills and win the interviewer over with these. You need to publicise your skills and how they will help develop the role you would be working in. Following a successful interview, you can look to iron out the details. Most often or not the primary information will have been advertised with the role.

9. “Tell me about the salary and benefits”

“He or she who mentions money first loses. Thus goes the old adage… and it’s still true much of the time. Asking salary and benefit questions too early in the interview process is deadly. Not only does it send the message that you’re only interested in what you can get from the company, it also devalues your experience and your brand. Confident professionals negotiate from a position of mutual trust and exemplify a win-win-win approach.” – Cheryl Lynch Simpson, Executive Resume Rescue.

The above conclusion is pretty obvious and you should always leave the remuneration to the final stages of any interview process as part of ironing out a successful job offer.


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