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6 things you should never do in a job interview — and what to say instead, according to recruiters

Woman spotlight
Recruiters share common red flags in interviews and what to say instead to stand out.
  • Job interviewees can give off red flags without realizing.
  • Six hiring managers shared the most common ways candidates put off prospective employers.
  • They described what candidates should do instead.

Job candidates can stand out to hiring managers for all the wrong reasons.

Six recruiters told Business Insider how interviewees make common mistakes that can easily be avoided. They shared the biggest red flags they see and what candidates should say instead.

1) Don't just list your achievements

Candidates who list their achievements without explaining their impact or linking them to the role can put employers off, said Maya Wald, a hiring manager for a tech startup.

Instead of listing each role and project you've worked on, focus on making each of your answers show your knowledge and motivation, she said. "This leaves me with a clear understanding of the candidate's past performance and what they're capable of."

For Wald, the best candidates use metrics to demonstrate the impact of their work.

2) Don't overshare about your personal life

Matt Opramolla, a recruiter who worked for Google, said he once interviewed a candidate who shared their worries about not being able to pay rent. He said candidates should keep their comments strictly related to the job they're interviewing for.

"Employers and interviewers are specifically trained not to ask questions around candidates' family or financial situation, so it's best not to bring it up," he said.

Revealing that you don't have other job options could give potential employers a reason to lower your salary, he said. "If they know you don't have any other options, they will likely lowball you."

Candidates should keep their answers short and focused to avoid oversharing about their personal life and finances, he suggested.

3) Don't brag about how you can use particular products or technologies

Interviewees can fall into a trap of bragging that they're able to use particular products or technologies to solve problems, said Carter De Leo, a former Google software engineer who worked on the tech giant's hiring committee for four years. "We almost never wanted to hear about specific technologies," he said.

De Leo said recruiters at Google were instead looking for people with a "generalist background." They'd often ask candidates problem-solving questions with three or four layers.

The candidates that stood out showcased their breadth of knowledge, such as an understanding of high-level processes, and depth, by digging into the detail of one element of their answer. "No one is an expert in every single piece," he said.

De Leo said the best candidates don't always give a classroom answer, but they can show their approach to a problem step-by-step.

"There are always multiple answers," he said.

4) Don't say anything negative about a former boss

Never bash your employer if you're asked why you left a previous job, said Bonnie Dilber, a recruiting manager with nine years' experience.

It could give the interviewer the impression that there were issues with you in your previous job or that you'd be willing to badmouth them at a later date.

Instead, she suggested saying: "Things were going great, but I wanted to take on more challenges."

Or, "What I'm looking for in this role wasn't as interesting as I thought it would be. I'd like to find something that better aligns with my interest."

Focusing on the positive helps you avoid giving a red-flag response to the question, she said.

5) Don't ask general questions

Candidates should avoid asking potential future colleagues general questions as they won't reveal anything, said Chris Williams, an advisor and consultant who was the VP of HR at Microsoft. Instead, he said, ask them for specific examples and personal perspectives.

"If you really want to understand the company you're interviewing with, you have to flip the interview. Ask them questions every bit as incisive as the ones they ask you," he said.

For example, instead of asking what the boss is like, he suggested asking: "What was your boss's response the last time something really went wrong?" That'll give you a better idea of how the boss approached a difficult situation.

Instead of asking what the culture's like, Williams said, ask, "Of all the places and groups you've worked where would this place rank?" The question gives interviewers the chance to show what they like about working at the company, and perhaps, what could be improved, he said.

6) Don't rely on your prepared questions to learn about the company

Some candidates only research a list of questions to ask at the end of an interview, but the best ones do specific research and demonstrate their knowledge of a company said Nolan Church, a former recruiter for Google.

Church said he was impressed with candidates who went above and beyond reading up on the company's website. For example, he suggested finding interviews with a company's founder and giving specific examples of what they heard.

Ahead of an interview for a role at DoorDash, one candidate said they'd gone to 10 restaurants and asked them why they didn't offer DoorDash service. The person then shared the answers and what they would do to persuade the restaurants to use the service. "We ended up hiring them within 24 hours,' Church said.

"While it may feel like you're selling yourself in a super competitive world, that's what you have to do. At the end of the day, you have to stand out."

Read the original article on Business Insider

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