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Welcome to question of the day #330

Eyetool question of the day #330

I had a job interview last week and was unsuccessful. I know the person that did get the job and they have much less experience than I do. Any suggestions on how I can get better for my next job interview?

At a job interview nerves can cause people to speak before they think. This can lead to problems and perhaps even not getting a job that you are the best candidate for.

One of the common problems is the oversharing of, usually, personal information about you. It seems that in the job interview environment some interviewees (the person being interviewed) think that the interviewer is their friend and the conversation becomes one between friends rather than one between an interviewee and interviewer. Things then get shared which should never be shared in that environment.

Even in smaller companies and the most casual workplaces, the golden rule is to keep any interview conversation strictly professional. What may seem like relationship-building on the interviewer’s part could actually be a test. For example, during an interview over a meal, even if the interviewer orders an alcoholic drink, you should abstain. And, even if they start to open up about their personal lives, don’t take this as an invitation to do the same. You don’t want to offer up something that could be used against you. A lot of the time these are subconscious biases, so you may not pick up on the fact that something you said is working against you. Take control by avoiding the pitfalls. Don’t overshare:

Financial status

Letting on that you’re tight on cash can hurt you, especially in the negotiation phase. Talking about your financial goals like paying off debt or saving for a house are also not great topics for the first interview. They can lead to more personal questions and detract from the purpose, which is to talk about how you’re the best candidate for the role.

Also, there is no need to disclose how much you were compensated in previous roles. If asked this question, consider this response: ‘I’m not comfortable sharing, but I look forward to receiving an offer if you find I’m the best fit.’

Relationship issues

Don’t mention any if you have them. The interviewer is not interested in your personal baggage and it may go against you. Perhaps you moved to a new city after a breakup or to get away from family drama. These small details can be big red flags for potential employers who are more focused than ever on building strong company cultures. The interviewer isn’t looking for your personal bio, but rather your professional one.

Legal situations

Don’t volunteer this information (impending divorce, lawsuits, criminal records) in the interview phase.

Religion

If you’re a person of faith, you should feel absolutely safe to express that in the workplace. If you require accommodations for your religion (prayer room, certain dates off, etc.), you would bring this up in the final interview stage. Otherwise, keep the conversation focused on professional achievements.

Political affiliation

Being politically engaged is very important. Unless you’re in politics or your primary volunteer experience is related, stay away from discussing your beliefs or affiliations. If you do have professional or volunteer experience, be sure to focus on the outcomes and lessons you learned (organisational skills, resilience, persistence, determination) that can be applied in the role you’re interviewing for, rather than advocating for a politician, party, or issue.

Time-consuming hobbies or side-hustles

You may have the best time management skills and/or have completely automated your side hustle. However, bringing up a hobby or part-time job that sounds like it takes up your time (and your attention) can turn off potential employers. Highlight past entrepreneurial efforts and/or your entrepreneurial mindset without going into detail.

Family plans

Avoid weaving these personal details into a story or talking about your future. Unfortunately, expressing future family plans can still create red flags.

Don’t:

Complain about former workplaces

Say ‘As you can see on my resume.’

Say ‘I don’t know…’ but don’t be afraid to ask for clarity.

Say ‘I’m open to anything’. Show ambition.

Ask ‘How much vacation and sick leave do you offer?’.Check the company website.

Ask promotion-related questions. Focus on highlighting your achievements.

Say ‘My greatest weakness is actually a strength. Sounds cheesy.

Say ‘I think outside of the box.’ Avoid all buzzwords and phrases otherwise you will sound like an MBA brochure.

Use jargon and acronyms. Use storytelling and details to paint the complete picture of what you have to offer.

Use filler words. Like, so, yeah, um, obviously, personally, literally, basically, utilise. All to be avoided.