In an ideal world, an interview is a candid discussion between candidate and interviewer about the job and whether the candidate is the right match. And indeed, candor will usually increase both participants’ chances of ending up with the right fit. But there are some statements that can hurt your odds if you’re honest about them with your interviewer. Here are eight to avoid.
1. “That job isn’t on my resume because I was only there for two months.” Your resume isn’t required to be a comprehensive listing of everything you’ve ever done. It’s a marketing document, and it’s fine to pick and choose what you include. But mentioning that you only worked somewhere for two months is likely to make your interviewer wonder what went wrong. Did you get fired? Could you not get along with your co-workers? Exceptions to this rule are summer jobs, temp jobs, contract work or other positions obviously designed to be short term.
2. “I’m applying to grad school for the fall.” It’s not that there’s anything wrong with education, but this is basically like announcing, “I’m hoping to leave this job in a year or less.” If you’re clear that you plan to attend school locally or online and it won’t interfere with full-time work hours, this might not be an issue. But interviewers for some jobs – especially high-pressure, high-workload jobs – will worry that you won’t be able to balance both work and school, and that work will suffer. Tread carefully with this one.
3. “My last job was a nightmare.” Interviewers know that there are terrible bosses and terrible jobs out there. Heck, they’ve probably even had some of them themselves. So, it’s not that they don’t believe that such a thing is possible. But when a job candidate starts badmouthing a previous job or manager, the interviewer has no way of knowing the other side of the story. Maybe you’re a prima donna, or hard to work with, or unreasonable and unrealistic. Since they don’t know you and they probably don’t know your last boss, they’re not able to judge. But what they do know now is that you’re not very discreet, which isn’t a point in your favor.
4. “I don’t have references.” Not having references isn’t really an option. If you can’t find anyone who can speak about your work – no former managers, co-workers, clients or colleagues from volunteer jobs – most employers are going to assume that it’s because there have been serious problems with your work. You need references, period.
5. “I see this as a foot in the door and hope to move up quickly.” While you might think this shows appealing evidence of ambition, most managers are going to be concerned that you’re not going to be content spending a reasonable amount of time in the job that they’re hiring for. Managers are looking for stability when they hire. They generally want people who will stay for at least a couple of years, if not longer. They don’t want to hire people who are going to be pushing to move out of the position quickly.
6. “I’m going to wait in your reception area for my ride to pick me up.” If someone else drove you to the interview, keep that to yourself. You don’t want to raise concerns in the manager’s mind about whether you’ll be able to reliably get to work if you’re hired.
7. “What I’d really like to do someday is…” If you’re tempted to share your dream of teaching kindergarten when you’re applying to work as an accountant, or your hope of starting your own catering business when you’re interviewing as a programmer, resist the urge. Interviewers want to hire people who are excited about the job at hand, and they want to hear that the role fits in with your goals for yourself. If you clearly announce that you wish you were doing something else instead – or that you might decide to do something else sometime soon – they’re likely to get concerned about how satisfied you’ll really be if they hire you.
8. “I’m interviewing in three different fields.” It’s fine to check out different options. But again, interviewers want to see that you’re confident about the job with them before they hire you for it. If you’re not sure what field you want to work in, they may want you to figure that out before they consider bringing you on board.