Competition for jobs is tough, and when interviewing, many candidates inadvertently wind up shooting themselves in the foot. Long-winded answers, lying, and painting yourself as perfect are ways that many candidates unintentionally tank their chances of being hired at various companies. To help you avoid some of the great ways to hurt your career, here are a few chance killers to avoid when you’re interviewing.
1. Answering a different question than what was asked.
There’s a good chance that the interviewers are asking the same questions of every candidate. Not answering what is asked will lead your interviewers to think you either can’t answer the question or, just as bad, don’t want to. The interviewer no doubt thought the question was a good one, and he or she is unlikely to think more of you for not answering it. If you don’t understand the question, you can always ask for clarification — or, if you’re in a digital interview and no opportunity for clarification is available, state how you’re interpreting the question. That way, the interviewer knows that you are trying to answer his or her question, even if you wind up missing the mark.
2. Faking what you don’t know.
As hard as it is to say “I don’t know” in a job interview, your future employer will think more of you if you admit that you don’t know the answer instead of giving a poor or irrelevant one. But bear in mind: if you find yourself constantly answering or thinking “I don’t know,” you should consider other job opportunities, or do a bit more homework next time. You don’t want to show an excess of ignorance about the place where you want to work.
3. Going on… and on… and on….
In digital interviews the question periods are usually timed, so interviewers are looking for relatively short answers. If you find that you’re going on and on, stop. Overly long answers can often indicate a lack of self-control, uncertainty about how to answer, or, sometimes, an oversized ego — and those are the last impressions you want to make.
Don’t embellish. Don’t lie. Just don’t do it. The Internet is a great fact-checking tool, making it easy for potential employers to figure out when you’re stretching the truth. And once you’ve demonstrated that you’re untrustworthy, you can kiss the job goodbye. You’re better off sticking to the facts.
5. What weaknesses?
A worker who’s unaware of his or her weaknesses, or who hasn’t considered a good answer to such a standard question, isn’t going to be an effective worker. Demonstrating a knowledge of how to compensate for your weaknesses can give you an edge on the competition — just make sure that, whatever your weaknesses may be, they aren’t fatal for the job. Your best bet in any interview is to be yourself and speak honestly. If you don’t get hired, be glad you avoided landing at a place where you wouldn’t have fit. After all, jobs are about fit (both in terms of professional skill and work culture), and when you do take a job, it is important to do so at a place that is a match for you.