Interviews are tricky. Every word has the power to make or break your chances of moving on to the next round, or landing the job.
If you are lucky enough to catch the words that ‘break your chances,’ the good news is that you can back up and try again. Give a bad answer to a question and you can usually see it on their face, affording you the opportunity to say: “I don’t think I articulated that answer the right way. What I would like to say is…”
There are also the inappropriate or rude things people will blurt out in an interview that will put you in the pass pile. You might be able to apologize for the offense and get away with it, unless you repeatedly gravitate towards such vocabulary while talking.
But there are seven words that candidates keep saying in interviews that they should have no excuse for.
What Not to Say at a Job Interview:
“I Don’t Have Any Questions Right Now.”
There are probably a dozen reasons this can ruin your interview. And to reiterate – yes – we still encounter/hear about interviews where people aren’t prepared with questions.
Here are some of the ways this statement can be interpreted:
You Didn’t Prepare for the Interview
If you don’t have any questions, it can show that you didn’t do your research. But even if you did extensive research about the company or the role, you can’t have the answers to all the possible questions you could ask. Coming prepared with meaningful questions shows a degree of modesty – that you don’t know all the answers, but are eager to learn them. Speaking of modesty…
It may not be your intention, but having no questions prepared for the interviewer might come across as a cocky attitude. You know (or think you know) everything you need to, so why ask questions? Being too self-confident in an interview can be a deal breaker.
Lack of Enthusiasm for the Job
Asking meaningful questions demonstrates two things: 1. You are investigating if the company is right for you, and, 2. You are confirming to the interviewer that you are the right fit for them. And even if you know you are a fit for them at this point, by asking leading questions you can follow up with responses that demonstrate to the interviewer that you are a fit.
Lack of Respect for the Interviewer and Their Time
This one really hurts. Let’s take the interviewer’s perspective: They have an opening they need filled. They are probably in a rush to fill it so that a problem can be addressed sooner than later. They go through the trouble of crafting a job description, reviewing it with their teams, getting approval, and getting it posted. They receive your resume, research you, bring you in for the interview, spend 30-45 minutes making sure you are the right person. They probably start to feel satisfied and even relieved that you came in! Now they are eager to hear your thoughts, or tell you all the great things about the company that you haven’t asked about yet. They ask if you have any questions. “Nope.” That sucks all the wind from their sails. If you don’t have questions for them about the job or the company, it is likely that you are just not that interested in the opportunity.
This part of the interview should be your time to stand out. It is likely that they have interviewed other candidates who have similar and competing experiences and qualifications. So here are some questions you can ask to get the interviewer excited to hire you.
Great Questions You Can Ask the Interviewer
What does an average day look like for you?
This question will allow you not only to get a snapshot of how you will be expected to perform on a daily basis, but also allows the interviewer to spend some time talking about themselves – and people really do enjoy talking about themselves.
How does X get done around here?
You want to learn about how the team/company operates and the process involved, so when you arrive on day 1 there are no surprises. You may learn about how large the teams are, and how they communicate with each other, the shape of the organizational chart, etc.
Is there a reason this position was created?
A good question, but be careful with this one. If you can do some basic research to find the answer, or if the interviewer already addressed it, you probably shouldn’t ask it. For example, if the job description reads: “We are seeking a General Manager to lead and grow the team in our new office located in Buenos Aires,” don’t ask why the job was created.
But if you have a feeling that this position was opened up after someone else was fired, you might be able to learn the reasons the person was let go – and can respond with how you would succeed.
Do you have any concerns about hiring me?
It’s a brave question to ask – so you better be prepared with some answers.
What would be your definition of a successful performance in this role? After a month, quarter, half year, year, etc…
This question will help you understand their expectations. If it seems outlandish, it could be a red flag. You might be the 3rd or 4th person to try and succeed in an impossible role after only so many years. But if you are in your second or third interview, this can be valuable information for you to discuss or negotiate aspects of the job, such as your budget to achieve success in the role or a more appropriate timeline.