In my seven years of recruiting experience, I've placed candidates at major companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft. And I can tell you that it's not just what you say in an interview that will get you a job — but how you make the interviewer feel.
Hiring managers will talk to you and many other candidates just a few times before quickly needing to make a decision. So they often have to rely on their gut. I always remind people to be mindful of the image they project, because that's what hiring managers will remember.
Here are seven interview phrases that destroy your chances of landing a job, and what to say instead.
While this might come off as flexible and eager, it can also seem desperate or lacking in focus.
Recruiters want candidates to know themselves well enough to establish a clear sense of what they can offer and how that aligns with the specific needs of the position — not someone who is willing to jump at any opportunity.
Say this instead: "I'm passionate about [specific role/task] and believe I could excel there, but I'm also open to other roles where I can contribute effectively."
Even if a company reached out to you, it's basic interview etiquette to do some kind of research on the business. This response suggests a lack of preparation and initiative.
Say this instead: "From my understanding, your company focuses on [what you know]. Can you share more about the current initiatives in [specific department]?"
Saying this implies a lack of self-awareness or reluctance to be self-reflective.
No one wants to work with someone who thinks they're perfect, and interviewers have a responsibility to their team to not hire candidates who have a negative effect on morale.
Say this instead: "A challenge I've faced is [specific weakness], but I'm actively working on it by [strategy/measure]."
Everyone can sympathize with having a horrible boss. It feels like a rite of passage in the corporate world.
However, complaining about your last boss or employer is a gigantic red flag to an interviewer, because it suggests an inability to maintain professional relationships or manage conflict.
Say this instead: "I had some differing views with my previous supervisor, but I learned a lot about communication and teamwork."
While honesty is valued, strong interviewing requires you to show a willingness to learn. This answer indicates that you're unable to problem-solve without oversight or guidance.
To a discerning interviewer, this response also makes it seem like having you on the team could create extra work for everyone else.
Say this instead: "That's something I'd be keen to explore. Based on what I know, I'd approach it this way..."
No matter how well written your resume is, it's just a piece of paper. The interview's main purpose is to understand the person behind the document.
If you don't take the opportunity to expand on your resume, an interviewer may think you lack depth or knowledge about your past roles and achievements.
Say this instead: "Of course, that detail is in my resume. But to elaborate, [give a more detailed account]."
While the intention of this question may be honest, it may also give the impression that money is your only concern. Employers want to hire people who care about the money, but also the mission and vision of the organization.
Say this instead: "I'd appreciate it if we could discuss the entire compensation package once we've explored the role further."
Successfully navigating an interview means understanding not just what to say, but also what not to say. Replacing potential pitfalls with thoughtful alternatives can turn a tense interaction into a mutually beneficial conversation, paving the way for a promising career opportunity.
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Jermaine L. Murray is a career coach and founder of JupiterHR. He specializes in helping companies diversify their hiring pipelines with talent from marginalized communities. Follow him on Twitter @TheJobfather__.