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What not to say in an interview

25 Apr

Once you’ve sent off your application for a job, the hopeful next step in the job hunt is securing a first-round interview. If you’ve reached this stage, congratulations! An interview provides you with the most exciting opportunity to engage with your potential future employers and demonstrate your capability for the role. But how do you know what to say – and not say?

Make it count

There are several pitfalls to be aware of when you go into your interview. Remember that you don’t get a second chance at an interview so your first impression counts. The interviewer will have only gleaned a small amount from your CV and cover letter so it’s up to you to sell yourself. Be prepared and professional: This means doing your research into both the company and the individual who is interviewing you.

Show confidence

You need to be confident, but not arrogant. There can often be a fine line between the two but, as an employer, it will be very easy to distinguish the difference. Have confidence in the experience you do have, even if it is not extensive. Don’t lead with “I know I don’t have much experience but…” drawing attention to this fact. Instead, highlight the skills you learnt from the experience you have done.

Know your weaknesses

More often than not, you will be asked what your weaknesses are. Do not go into an interview without having prepared some to discuss when appropriate – saying you do not have any weaknesses is simply not true, no matter how brilliant you are! Similarly, don’t tell the interviewer that your greatness weakness is perfection or that you think outside the box. These are overused clichés that will simply leave you looking underprepared as they say nothing about your personality or individual work style.

Be nice

When asked about previous places of work, never be disparaging about a boss, even if you left on bad terms. The person interviewing you may assume you are difficult to manage if you demonstrate disagreements with a previous boss. It is also important that you don’t say that the reason you left your previous job was because you hated it. Spin the situation around to make it positive about the position you are interviewing for, rather than a whole load of negative criticisms about where you were working.

Focus on what you can contribute

You want to come across as an individual who is going to benefit the company and who isn’t just in it for themselves. Therefore, you should not focus on the personal benefits that you will get from the job role, such as salary, holiday allowance or working from home. You don’t want to come across as someone with a ‘what’s in it for me’ kind of attitude so wait for the interviewer to bring these subjects up. You can always ask the questions in a follow-up email after the interview. Likewise, do not ask questions such as “how late can I be without getting fired?” “How long is lunch?” “Do you have to take a drug test or does the company monitor Internet usage?” Or, simply, “Have I got the job?” These are questions that seem obvious not to ask now but, in the heat of an interview, you may be inclined to ask. But don’t.

Keep it simple

When answering a question posed to you by the interviewer, try not to use industry terms or jargon in response. Stick with phrases that everyone can understand rather than trying to impress with complex and convoluted sentences. You can also use stories to demonstrate your capability but make sure they have a relevant link to either the question you have been asked or to the company you’re interviewing for.

Be professional

Above all else, always stay professional, no matter how casual the interview is. Never stray into telling stories that are not appropriate just because the interviewers seem very relaxed. You don’t know them yet and so you should maintain interview etiquette. Likewise, if they use slang or swear words do not follow suit. Keep your language and demeanour professional. Once you get the job then you can adopt the attitude of the company. But, until then, you are trying to impress.

Interviews can be a nerve-wracking process for many applicants. But, if you have done the required preparation, have confidence in your own ability and remain professional throughout the process, you should find yourself walking into a new job in no time.

Interested in starting a career in the financial services? We have a wide variety of jobs on offer, which you can view here. Or, get in touch with a member of the team to find out more.
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