Guest Author: Carole Martin
1. Using informal language
Too much familiarity can hurt your chances by making you look unprofessional. It is important to remember that you are interviewing for a job, not trying to make a new best friend. Too much familiarity can hurt your chances by making you look unprofessional.
“I’m sure you guys are aware that the job market is in the dumps right now. It’s been one heck of an uphill battle for me for the past year.”
“Unfortunately, as I am sure you are aware, the job market is still tight, and there is a great deal of heavy competition for the same jobs.”
2. Using vague words
Words such as “a lot,” “various/multiple,” and “great deal of” are vague and don’t give the interviewer the needed information.
“I have had a lot of experience with various lines of multiple products. I am proud of the results I’ve had in saving the company a great deal of money.”
“With over eight years experience working in the paper industry and primarily selling photo paper, I consider myself an expert on the subject and have saved my
clients as much as 20 percent on orders over $5000.”
3. Misuse of pronouns
It can be very confusing and words can be misinterpreted when pronouns are misused. Be especially alert for this when you are using the pronouns “we,” I,” and
“We were behind in our project, and we decided that we would stay and finish the job rather than miss our deadline. We pulled it together, and we were able to meet our deadline.”
“I worked with a team of designers to bring a project in on time. We each took responsibility for a particular area. We worked closely, but at the same time we were completely disconnected from one another. This seemed to work because my four counterparts and I managed to pull the project together on time.”
4. Using company-specific words
Each company has certain terms that are indigenous only to that company. Outsiders will not know what you are talking about if you use these terms. This is especially true if you have worked for a public organization or the military. You should use as many specific words as possible in your interview so that the hiring manager knows you are familiar with your industry.
“While I was working on the 767 project, I discovered an error in the “whichamaculit” used to produce our 656 product line. This was a really costly mistake.”
“At my last company there was a particular marketing project that involved a software conversion. Because of my strong attention to detail, I was able to catch an
error that would have cost the company millions of dollars.”
5. Assuming everyone knows the acronym you are using
Acronyms are used at every company — shortcuts used internally to eliminate a lot of words. Avoid using these in an interview because the hiring manager may not be familiar with the acronyms used at our current company.
“I was considered an SAR and supported three line reps who were in the SWSC area.”
“My position title was sales associate representative, and I supported the sales representatives who were responsible for the southwest area of South Carolina.”
6. Using “weak” words to describe skills
Beware of small words that can sabotage your credibility — words like “pretty,” “most of the time,” and “kind of.”
“I’m pretty good with computers — at least most of the time I am. I kind of taught myself most of the programs.”
“I am very knowledgeable about Unix software. When I was unfamiliar with programs in the past, I taught myself in less than two weeks. I am a very quick learner.”
7. Use too few words to answer the question
One pet peeve many interviewers have is not getting enough information. When a candidate answers a question with one or two words, it’s impossible to make a judgment as to whether this person is the right person for the job.
“Yes, I have had experience in that area.”
“I have over 10 years working with biotech testing. If you were to ask any of my coworkers, they would tell you that I hold the record for the least number of mistakes when using testing equipment.”
8. Talking too much — not getting to the point
When you fail to prepare for the interview, you can easily ramble and go off the subject down some other road. A rule of thumb is, “Your answers should be no longer than two to three minutes long.”
“My last company was developed software to support government enforcement of firearms violators. This nationwide project will be the first of its kind and will allow users to investigate firearms traffickers and purchasers. The software is able to track violent offenders and unscrupulous federal firearms licensees. This product will allow users to investigate and prosecute violators and felons by tracking their activities from remote locations. The product has been developed in cooperation with the U.S. government and will hopefully be purchased and used by all branches of law enforcement agencies that could use this tracking method. The company has invested over two years in developing and perfecting this product and has invested a great percentage of the company’s revenue in it, betting that this is going to have a big payoff long term. Short term it has put a considerable squeeze on the finances needed…
“At my last company I served as lead in getting a new tracking product launched nationwide. The product will be used to track firearms violators and bring them to conviction through evidence collected. I worked closely with the U.S. government and followed the regulations necessary to develop such a product.”
For more interview tips, visit her www.interviewcoach.com