5 things you should never reveal in a job interview

Job interviews are conversational. And they should be: two people are trying to get to know each other a little better to determine if they would be a good fit to work together.

But don’t let the sometimes casual nature of chatting cause you to let your guard down.

You are being judged on everything you say, and there are some things you should never communicate to a prospective employer.

Here are the top five things you should never reveal in a job interview:

1. Need

Of course you need the job. Unless you are living off a large inheritance or lottery windfall, you need to earn a living. (And in one of those cases, why are you even at this interview?) So let that go unspoken. Employers don’t want to hear that you really need the job (because you’re going broke, because you’re fleeing a negative work situation, because your unemployment insurance is running out, because no one else has been willing to give you a chance, etc.)

2. Actual weaknesses

Most job interviewers will ask you about your strengths and weaknesses. This is to see if you can handle tough questions and speak eloquently under pressure. It is also aimed to reveal how self-aware you are. Have you taken a look at yourself, and do you know your own talents and areas for improvement?

What they don’t expect is for you to actually list weaknesses that would disqualify you from the job. You should be smarter than that. One recruiter recently told me that the only reason he asks the ‘greatest weakness’ question is “because crazy people sometimes answer it.” So he can weed them out right away.

3. Resentment for past employers or jobs

Most of us have had bad bosses or negative working relationships at some point in our career. Often this is the reason we’re changing jobs in the first place. But you never want to say that in an interview.

Speaking negatively about your past work experience will only make you look like a complainer. Regardless of the situation, say it was a great learning experience for your career at the time, but that you have outgrown the role and are excited about taking on new challenges. (Such as offered by the job you’re interviewing for.)

4. Lack of confidence

Everybody gets nervous in job interviews. It is an inherently stressful situation. That’s kind of the point of them. On the job there will likely be stressful situations too. You will face occasions where you have to react under pressure, think on your feet, and communicate in a friendly, professional manner under less than ideal conditions. Prove you can do it.

So you need to project confidence. Practice talking about your past work experience and accomplishments in a conversational manner in advance. Be aware of your body language. A firm dry hand shake, proper eye contact, and a warm smile can go a long way to projecting confidence. (Studies have shown that smiling actually makes you feel more confident as well.)

5. That you see this job as a stepping stone to advance your career

Most people change jobs every few years now, so every role we take is really a stepping stone. However true that might be, it’s not what employers want to hear in job interviews.

Many candidates will explain that they are interested in a position because they “want to get their foot in the door” of the industry. This is a terrible answer. Once you’ve gotten your foot in the door and jumped to the next opportunity, the employer will be right back where they started. They’ll have a vacant position they need to fill and have to start hiring all over again.

You need to demonstrate that the job at hand is a great career move for you – and not just a jumping off point for what you really want to do.


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