Last week, we explored Resume Writing 101, specifically the common mistakes applicants make when building a curriculum vitae. This week, on a similar note, we will explore the most common interview faux pas. In today’s session on Interviewing 101, we will painfully analyze those absolutely preventable moments when you royally stick your foot in your mouth.
You may be asking yourself, “Why? What’s the point? Everyone knows the basics of what not to say.” This may in fact be true on some big picture and conceptual level, but the micro and minute reality of the matter is that these moments continue to occur in hiring offices across the country.
The value of reading and writing about interview flubs and faux-pas is that it will bring these particular phrases to the forefront of your mind. From a cognitive process perspective, you will be made more cognizant and therefore much less likely to slip up. Between the sweaty palms and racing hearts, slip-ups happen, but you can be confident that you will avoid the following most common foot-in-mouth moments.
1. The Egomaniacal Moment a.k.a. “I… I… I…”
This refers to a pattern of speech whereby every sentence starts with “I.” Yes, it is an interview. Yes, the hiring manager wants and needs to find out about you as a candidate. Yes, it is in your benefit to paint yourself in the best light. Having said all of that, an Egomaniacal Moment can be very off-putting. An interview should be a two-way conversation, where both parties are discovering new things about each other. Furthermore, an ability to only speak about oneself and a corresponding inability to ask interesting or provoking questions may demonstrate a lack of knowledge or interest about the company.
2. The Basic Information Moment
There are stock interview questions. In fact, they are so common that many interviewers no longer ask them. Many hiring boards are getting more creative with their recruitment process, and the manner in which interviews are conducted and evaluated. However, if and when you are presented with one of the basic questions that inquire about basic information, you should have a scripted answer ready. There is really no excuse for not being able to answer questions such as: What are your strengths?; What are you weaknesses?; and Where do you see yourself in five years?. This plainly shows a lack of ground level preparation.
3. The Over-Share Moment
It is great to engage in some small talk before or even during the interview. This allows both parties to relax, feel more comfortable, and ascertain that the individual on the other side of the table is human. Be cautious of a slippery slope from small talk to over-sharing. Personal matters, especially personal problems, should never be brought up at your initiative in an interview. While you do not need to be a formal automaton, proper decorum and professionalism is irreplaceable, and should not be underestimated. On a similar note, it is likely that your interviewer and you will know certain people in common, do not gossip or discuss your personal relationship with said person.