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5 Phrases that are Sabotaging Your Job Interview

Posted by Riza Tantay  /  April 22, 2022

This article is part of the Coaching Collective series, featuring tips and expertise from Flatiron School Career Coaches. Every Flatiron School graduate is eligible to receive up to 180 days of 1:1 career coaching with one of our professional coaches. This series is a glimpse of the expertise you can access during career coaching at Flatiron School. 

When you finally land an interview at the beginning of your job search, you start to wonder what to do and not do during the interview process. Below are some common phrases that could get in your way of being the one moving to the next round of interviews or obtaining the final job offer. 

5 Things NOT to say in a job interview…

1. “I am interested in the position because I am new to the new industry and want to expand my knowledge.” 

I’ve done more than 100 mock HR interviews and the common mistake I hear from someone starting in a new industry is this response to the question, “Why are you interested in this role?” 

You have to put yourself in the shoes of the employer. It’s not about what you’re trying to get out of the position, moreover, it’s about what you can bring to the table that perhaps other candidates don’t have. 

Do you have a background in sales? The restaurant industry? A family owned business that enabled you to wear multiple hats? Even though you may be new to the industry, what did you learn from that experience that can help move forward business goals for the company you applied for? How does your past experience align with the goals of this position they are attempting to fill? 

2. “I’m not the most experienced person, but…”

This is a common response because technically you are moving into a new career. Sure, you want to be honest and acknowledge the lack of experience on your resume, however, don’t sell yourself short. 

The truth is you don’t have to be 100% qualified for the position. In fact, there are other factors that come into play when recruiters are moving candidates through the interview process. 

3. “Uh, In my past experience, um, I…”

Using the words “like” and “um” is a normal and an adaptive way to fill the silence between our statements. However, during an interview, you want to ensure you’re pacing yourself appropriately so that the interviewer doesn’t question your ability to speak to clients or other stakeholders in the company.

It’s hard to be confident in the interview when perhaps deep down you feel like you’re an imposter. Just remember it’s better to slow down than to speak fast. You don’t want the interviewer to miss anything you say that could move you on to the next round of interviews. 

4. “We helped the team do…”

It’s okay to give your teammates credit when the credit is due. However, interviewers ask behavioral questions for a reason — to see how you handle situations and the actions you take to handle those situations. Recruiters are looking to see how you would behave in a scenario as it may come up again in the role that you’re attempting to pursue.

Be careful not to ramble or circle around a question. Using the STAR method will help you share your experience with intention and purpose. It’s important to be concise about your story telling but enough to elaborate how you handled a situation or created solutions. 

Another helpful way to combat rambling stories is to prepare examples before the interview. Look up the most common behavioral questions and have answers to all of them. Don’t write word by word but rather bullet points that state the most important. When sharing this experience, what do I want the recruiter to know about me and my capabilities and how this relates to this role?

5. “I don’t have any questions.” 

No matter how well the interviewer went or how quickly you were able to build rapport with the interviewer, you should always have questions during the interview. First, it shows your genuine interest in the role and company. Second, last impressions count and depending on the questions you ask, the interviewer can gauge how much you really want the position. And third, it demonstrates that you have done your research, depending on the questions you ask. 

A great question leads to great answers. Remember, you’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you. This is your time to inquire about things you were curious about that perhaps the job description cannot answer. 

Here Are Some Questions You Can Ask in the Interview:

  • What are your performance expectations for this position in the first 90 days?
  • What is the working environment like in the team I will be working on? 
  • Do you have any reservations about moving me forward to the interview based on my resume or interview process? 

Checking off the list from the job description may get you in the door. Avoid these phrases and you’re one step closer to landing the next interview or better yet the job offer.

About Riza Tantay

Riza Tantay was once an information technology recruiter turned career coach. After easily reviewing 100+ resumes and conducting interviews, her drive is to help others land jobs in companies they believe in. Through her courses and private coaching, she helps people navigate the job search with strategy and confidence. She is currently pursuing her MBA at the Jack Welch Institute to help advance visionary CEO’s build their dream team. Outside of her work, you’ll find her jet setting to different countries and exploring the world.