Sunday, May 15, 2011

Top 10 Stupid things said in a job interview

The economy is tough.  No doubt about it.  But the truth is.  Somewhere, everywhere, someone is looking for work in one fashion or another.  In the course of your search for employ you must interview with your potential employer.

The interview is an interesting process. It is the method by which the company reconciles you to your resume.  The fact that they are talking to you at all, says that either your resume is appropriate for the job offered, or you have friends in the company, or both.  When an employer interviews you they are actually looking for a 'good feeling' about you.  Do they feel like you will fit in?  Do they feel like you have the skills necessary?  Do they feel like you are a trouble maker?  The questions they ask will help them determine these things.

The interview conversation should be thought of like a discussion with the police on TV.  The smart person will answer the questions asked and offer nothing more.  The open ended question like 'is there anything you want to ask me?' or 'why are you looking for work?' should be answered with something brief and innocuous.  The following are things that have been heard in job interviews that shouldn't have been.

10.  When is recess? - This actual phrase was said as a joke.  ha, very droll.  Clever quips during the interview process will likely do you more harm than good.  Humor is a very personal thing and everyone has a different sense of it.  Don't jeopardize your potential employment by saying goofy things.  I've made this mistake a few times. 

9.  So how strict are the rules here? - In a different blog I mention the employee handbook as being very important.  It is.  Those are the rules and you should follow them.  Asking about the strictness of the rules tells your employer that you really plan on bending them.   This questions should never be asked because the answer will become self evident.

 8. How many personal/vacation days do I get? - You are looking for a job.  This is your primary objective.  Everyone knows that you need vacation and sick time, but if you open with 'how much time off do you get ?'.  It will put the impression in your employers head that you are really not going to be particularly interested in the actual company you are working for.  The time to ask about the vacation arrangements is when they offer you a position.  If it hasn't come up by then, it's time not only to see how much vacation time there is, but it is also time to negotiate your time off.  I always ask for an extra 5 days of sick/personal time.  It's easy to get because sick days are not reimbursed so if 'things don't work out' they don't have to pay you for those days.

7. Boy will I be glad to get away from my old job - Don't bad mouth your old employer until after you've got the job.  even then, it's not a really good idea.  you never know who has political ties to other businesses in the area.  Your future boss's wife might be the one you had the biggest problems with at your prior job.  Who knows?  Even when you are employed, it's best to let bygones be bygones.  I've had problems with this one as well because people like to talk about their prior battle wounds.

6. What's your sick policy like? - This falls under the personal days but it's a bit different.  You are asking what the policy is.  Whenever someone asks for chapter and verse on a companies disposition towards anything specific, it tells the employer that you are probably going to try to find the loophole so you can ultimately take advantage.  Don't do it.  Don't GAME the system.  It will put you in bad with your managers as well as you co-workers.  It will NOT make you Ferris.

5. Can I get paid in cash? - If you are an illegal alien.  This might be important for you.  It's also important for your employer to know.  Also, trying to avoid tax garnishments or alimony obligations are not looked on favorably.  Just assume that you will need to have a bank so you can be paid in the same way that everyone else is.

4. I have a side business, but it shouldn't interfere - If they ask you about other concerns, then go ahead and mention that you have a side thing selling khaki beany babies on Ebay.  Otherwise, keep that information to yourself.  It will taint their view of you and it's really not their business.  On the other hand, you should understand that this is to be your primary method of employment and will supersede any other interests you may have in the event of a conflict.

3. My goals?  Well I see myself with your job. - Looking overly ambitious only works with managers not directly involved in managing you.  Your direct manager really doesn't want to hire someone that is gunning for his job unless he is ambitious as well and will need an heir to his position.  This is nearly impossible to ascertain during the interview process so it's best to not show off any great ambitions.  A good answer to the really silly question of 'where do you see yourself in 5 years' might be 'In 5 years I would hope to have expanded my skill-set such that I can take advantage of the best opportunities available'

2. I can whip em into shape - Don't pretend to be the great reformer unless they are asking you to do so.  If a job wants you to 'whip a department into shape'  That actually tells you more than they want you to know.  It tells you that they have been unable to do this themselves and they have unruly employees.  Ultimately you are dealing with a company that has management problems.  If you take this position, you will be fighting with management.  If you offer the above unsolicited, you are telling them that their management is probably ineffective.  Nobody wants to hear that.

1. What was the question? - For goodness sake, PAY ATTENTION.  Nothing is worse in an interview than looking disinterested or bored.  You need to be on the edge of your chair and interested in everything that is being said.  If you are off in your own world during an interview, you might as well kiss that potential job goodbye right there.

If you are looking for work, I hope you find employment soon.  I think that we will be swinging back on the jobs front, but not as quickly and likely not the way we were used to before.  Quality people are always in demand, so put your best foot forward and go get em!