If you show up for the interview and say anything close to the following two phrases, you will immediately diminish your candidacy and likely get yourself ruled out of consideration for any job offer at all. The interviewer, especially a very good one, will be evaluating you for the things you say, the things you don’t say, your overall demeanor and presentation as well as your ability to appear contemplative and thoughtful with your dialogue and questions.
As you prepare for your next job interview, you’ll likely be thinking about many different things including the company/organization, the organizational culture, the leadership, pay, benefits, etc. You’ll also likely be thinking about what you want to say during the interview and what messages you want to send as you attempt to show the interviewer that you’re indeed the best candidate for the job.
The problem here is that what you say during the job interview is just as important—if not more—as what you don’t say. Here are two of the worst things you can say in a job interview.
1. Tell me about the job and the company.
Okay—if you show up for the job interview and you haven’t taken the time to understand the core aspects of the job and the company in advance, you will start off sending all the wrong signals. Not only could this simple phrase cause the interviewer to question your seriousness as a candidate, the interviewer may decide in that very moment to effectively end your candidacy for the position.
Yes, it’s okay to want seek out more details and insights during the interview (and you should do this), but you can’t just show up and ask a question like, “What is the job?” or “What does the company do?” and think that this isn’t going to make you look bad—very, very bad.
You have to be far more savvy than this. Even if you were only able to garner very limited information about the job and/or the company, don’t make the mistake of leaving the interviewer with any impression that you didn’t do your homework.
Here’s a better way.
Instead of asking the interviewer about the position or the company, state some details that you are aware of and then engage in a conversation that prompts the interviewer to freely share more details and insights about the specifics of the job and the company without ever concluding that you didn’t even know the basics. Rather than saying something like, “Tell me about the job and the company,” you’d be better off saying something like this:
I’ve reviewed the position announcement and while it was thorough, there are three key aspects of the role that I’d like to get more information about. Can we dig in on aspects A, B and C of the position because I believe I’m uniquely suited to make immediate contributions in these areas as well as some others.
When you frame it this way, the interviewer comes to believe that you have actually done your homework and that you understand the role enough to have already thought about where you might best contribute. She will be impressed by how contemplative you are and proceed to volunteer all sorts of useful information about the position and company that will give you a competitive edge in expanding the conversation and creating moments to be memorable and shine.
2. No, you’ve answered everything so I don’t have any questions.
No, no and just no. Under no circumstances should you leave the interview without asking thoughtful questions. Asking questions during the interview shows the interviewer more than just what you want to know; it shows her how you think. And by allowing the interviewer to see how you think, you can gain a leg up on the competition.
Why don’t you have any questions? Leaders ask great questions so you should plan to ask the interviewer approximately three really good questions. But to ensure that you have at least three great questions you want to ask, you should actually go in with between five to eight questions because you never know how many of these might get answered by the interviewer before you ever get a chance to ask anything. You want to be prepared with your best preferred questions and then have some extra questions on hand.
Prior to applying for any job, it is incumbent upon you to evaluate the specifics of the career opportunity as much as possible and learn all you can about not only the job, but the company as well. Your thoroughness—and hence your questions—will send a message that you are indeed interested in the role and that you have already contemplated how the position might fit with your career interests and align with your career goals.
Here’s a better way.
You should always be prepared with thoughtful questions for the interviewer. And in a circumstance where the interviewer really does answer every question you had prepared, you have to think on the fly and frame a question in response to what you’ve learned during the interview. But, by all means, ask your interviewer some questions.
Most candidates will go into the interview with a goal to show the interviewer what they know and how that knowledge will help them succeed in the job. But when you ask great interview questions, you end up showing the interviewer how you think instead, and this will distinguish you from the other candidates. When you ask good questions, you demonstrate that you have a strategic-thinking mindset that can help to advance organizational efficacy and produce high-value deliverables for success.
The way to bring it home and get the job offer is to remember this. It is not about what you know. It’s about how you think, and the job offer will likely go to the candidate who shows himself or herself to be a strategic thinker with a mindset to advance organizational goals and add more institutional value than the competition.
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