Tech & Work

Interview bloopers offer good insight into what not to say

Often, the best advice comes from those who've suffered through the toughest lessons. Here, TechRepublic members generously share their job interview gaffes to help you avoid making the same mistakes.


Most job seekers have said something during a job interview that they’ve regretted. By the time you’ve clamped your lips shut, you know you’re not going to get a second call, not to mention the job itself.

Take Stuart Crawford, an IT manager at Qualtech Seating Systems in Michigan, for example. When we polled community members for examples of what not to say during that next job interview, Crawford shared a story from when he was considering a job in a different city.

“Because I'd been burned in a similar incident involving relocation, I asked the following question: ‘Will relocation expenses be covered, and can I get an advance against my salary to cover out-of-pocket moving expenses?’ Although this seemed reasonable to me at the time, as I was trying to cover my backside, it proved to be an offer killer,” wrote Crawford, explaining that the firm immediately took his question to mean that he was needy and a severe credit risk.

“The job I was applying for would have entailed budget preparation, asset purchasing, and allocation. They figured if I couldn't keep my finances in order, how could I keep theirs in order? My advice—don’t say anything that might give the interviewer a reason to think anything negative about you that may, or may not, be true,” said Crawford.

Sometimes it’s not the words
Sometimes you don’t even have to say a word to deliver a wrong message.

“If I could go back in time and change something I did in a job interview, it would be the time when the beautiful HR manager caught me checking her out right after she asked me what my goals were in life,” said Pablo Burbano. Many job hunters, he added, don’t realize that along with being questioned, they are also being analyzed by the hiring manager. He provided this quick list of ”don’ts” to keep in mind during the next job interview:
  • Don’t look at your watch every 10 minutes.
  • Don’t play with things like a pen or a knickknack sitting on the interviewer’s desk.
  • Don’t get too comfortable.
  • Don’t promise to fix the company's two years of losses and cure all the problems in the world.
  • Don’t assume that you have the job until it’s offered to you.

Being candid may not be the best tack
One fellow TechRepublic member noted that it’s never a good idea to be completely candid about certain issues, and sometimes the simplest questions require some thought.

During a recent job interview, the member, who requested anonymity, was asked, “What are your plans for the future?”

“I said, pointing to [the interviewer’s] seat, that ‘I would like to be in that seat.’ The interviewer turned with a nonplussed look as the secretary glanced at me. [The interviewer] said, ‘I am on this seat.’ While I think being ambitious is good, saying you want to take the boss's seat was a blooper—and I got no reply from them,” said the TechRepublic member.

Think, and think again
Many of the blooper examples provided by TechRepublic members were clearly off-the-cuff statements and responses, and obviously the best preventative medicine for this type of blunder is to think, at least for a few seconds, before answering questions. That’s exactly what David Spess likely wishes he had done during a recent job interview.

“The interviewer mentioned that they had another position open that was not advertised yet. He explained the job to me and then asked which job I thought I would be better suited for,” said Spess. “I said, ‘It sounds like the second job would better fit my abilities.’" Not surprisingly, Spess added, he never heard from the company again.

 

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