As a job candidate, you’re likely to do a lot of prep work in order to get ready for interviews. Performing well in an interview is crucial for landing the job you want — so you take the time to research the company and the interviewer, come up with answers for common or expected interview questions, practice interviewing, and make sure you’re dressed for success on the big day.

But what if all that preparation fails, and you still end up getting turned down?

It’s disappointing to fail an interview, especially if you don’t know why. Often, the reason might be you. Hiring managers typically have a lot of applicants to coordinate and interviews to give, so they’re looking not just for great answers to their questions — but also for red flags that will give them a reason to say “no.”

Here are 10 of those red flag statements or questions to avoid in your next job interview.

  1. My last company sucked
    Even if you had the worst job ever, it’s a bad idea to explore the magnitude of awful prior experiences with an interviewer. This is because the hiring manager is only getting one point of view — yours. And if they don’t know for sure that your last company was basically a sweat shop, they might assume that you were the problem.
    The same goes for bad-mouthing former bosses here. Keep the discussion about your past work history neutral to positive, and focus on what you learned from the experiences.
  1. Sorry, but I’m really nervous
    Nervousness is the opposite of confidence — and while the latter is a quality employers are looking for in job candidates, the former is not. In an interview situation, being honest about your nerves will be detrimental to the image you’re trying to project. So don’t use being nervous as an excuse, and focus on faking confidence until you make it.
    The truth is, hiring managers will know you’re nervous, and they’re probably feeling the same way.
  1. I’ll take any job you have
    You may consider this type of strategy as being open to options, but the hiring manager views it as a definite lack of passion. Employers want to hire candidates who are excited about a specific job — not people who are desperate for a paycheck, and will leave at the first better opportunity.
  1. I might not have much experience, but…
    This phrase commonly crops up for recent graduates or candidates who are going for a career change. It seems like a sensible, honest thing to say, and one that employers should already know from reviewing your resume. But stating that you don’t have a lot of experience is basically disqualifying yourself for the job, because you’re telling the hiring manager that you won’t make a good choice for the position.
    Instead of apologizing for your lack of experience, focus on your strengths and talk about any transferrable skills you have that would make you a good fit for the job.
  1. My biggest weakness is perfectionism
    Most interviews will include some form of the “greatest weakness” question — and most hiring managers stopped finding “perfectionism” an amusing answer the first time they heard it. Stating that you’re only weak because you try so hard to be perfect is a cliché that won’t help you stand out from all the other candidates who are giving the same response. Look for a genuine answer to this question before the interview, and be prepared to respond in a positive way.
  1. That’s already on my resume
    Hiring managers will ask you interview questions that you’ve already answered with your resume. But what you need to realize is that they don’t want you to rehash the information they’ve already read. They want you to elaborate on what you’ve put down on paper, and evaluate your communication and social skills through your response.
  1. I like to think outside the box
    Resume buzzwords are so overdone, they should rarely appear on resumes any more — let alone during an interview. Using phrases like “I’m a team player” and “I promoted synergy through a network of strategic alliances” comes with a high probability of making hiring managers’ eyes glaze over as they tune you out and wait for a candidate who speaks English.
  1. I don’t know
    If you’re asked a question and it’s got you stumped, saying “I don’t know” won’t win you any points for honesty. If you’re stuck for an answer, try repeating the question in a thoughtful way, and then saying something along the lines of how that’s a great question. And if you still don’t have a response, ask for a minute to think or a pen and paper to scribble it out.
  1. How many paid personal days do I get?
    There’s a time and place to ask about benefits and what’s in it for you — and that time isn’t the interview. You’ll probably discuss salary at some point with the hiring manager, but if you start hammering the interviewer with questions about what you’re going to get, you’ll come off sounding greedy or arrogant. Remember, the interview is about what you can do for the employer.
  1. I don’t have any questions for you
    Inevitably, the final interview question will be some form of “Do you have any questions for me?” And if you answer with no, you’re demonstrating that you’re not interested enough in the job to find out any more. Make sure you have a handful of thoughtful questions for the interviewer prepared ahead of time, so you don’t trip over the finish line at your next interview.

Want to know more about how to ace your next technical interview? Contact the experts at Strategic IT Staffing today!

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