While you may treasure your freedom of speech, job interviews are never the place to exercise that right. Interviewers are on high alert for anything that seems off about you, and minor behaviors could get your candidacy thrown out. Freezing up for a moment or botching one question might not sink your chances, but you're almost guaranteed to be out of the running if you make these terrible mistakes in a job interview.
1. I Don't Know
It doesn't matter whether the interviewer is asking about your goals, work history or salary requirements. Never give a potential employer the impression you have no clue what you're doing there and are basically looking for any means to get your colossal student loan debt under control.
From an interviewer's perspective, you're likely to be just as clueless when dealing with customers or problems on the job. If you need a moment to collect your thoughts, be honest. Try this simple response: "Let me think about that." But make sure you don't keep the interviewer waiting for too long.
2. I Have Other Options
When you're worth your salt, employers expect you to have other job interviews lined up. You don't have to flaunt your value to seem more appealing, and many interviewers take it as a sign that you're actually covering up desperation. Even if you're a highly sought-after candidate, it doesn't strengthen your candidacy to make employers feel like they aren't your top choice.
3. I Want Your Job
Some hiring managers are impressed by a highly ambitious employee, but don't assume the person interviewing you is one of them. Not everyone is confident enough to foster a presumptuous employee who's eager to move up. Craft interview answers that demonstrate how good you are at making your boss's life easier, so hiring managers look forward to working with you.
4. I'm Just Looking to Get My Foot in the Door
Many employers are deeply concerned about the cost of training a job hopper. Don't give interviewers a reason to worry that you might skip out as soon as something better comes along. Keep phrases such as "stepping stone," "launchpad" and "exploring my options" out of your interview answers, unless the employer is known for accelerated career advancement.
5. I Disliked My Previous Boss/Co-Workers
Personal squabbles have no place in a job interview, and bad-mouthing past colleagues sends the message that you lack professional boundaries. Interviewers are trying to imagine how you might fit into the organization. Focus on emphasizing the positive aspects of past work experiences and save the horror stories for non-work friends.
6. Any Profanity or Offensive Slang
No one really expects you to be perfect, but it's mutually understood that candidates shouldn't drop f-bombs, slang and chatspeak left and right. A job interview is a formal setting, and your language should match the occasion. While TV characters never seem to get fired for poor speech and vulgarity, real-life employers don't want to hire someone who can't represent the company with intelligence and poise.
A job interview isn't a therapy session, and an interviewer isn't someone to confide in. Employers are looking for specific traits and qualifications, so make sure you provide a compelling case for hiring you. Hiring managers, what other responses should job seekers avoid?
Photo courtesy of Un Bolshakov at Flickr.com