In theory, a job interview should be a mutually investigatory conversation between an employer and a potential employee. In reality, however, it can very much feel like you’re the one in the hot seat, with your every word under scrutiny. Most interviewers are willing to account for nerves, but it’s certainly true that they will be listening closely to what you say in order to decide whether or not you’re the right candidate for them. So with this in mind, let’s run through five phrases you should avoid during an interview, and what to say instead.
Don’t say “My biggest weakness is that I’m a perfectionist.”
Let’s face it, on paper this is the perfect weakness. It’s an answer that still paints yourself in a positive light. However, recruiters have heard this answer hundreds of times now and it is essentially meaningless now. What the recruiter really wants to hear is that you’re capable of knowing your own flaws and improving them. Choose a flaw that’s natural and relatable.
Instead, say “Sometimes I get caught up on small details and forget to see the bigger picture.”
Don’t say “I hate my job.”
You’re the last person to leave the office every day, you haven’t had a pay rise in years and the environment is toxic. Of course you hate your job, anyone would, but your potential new employer isn’t likely to want to hear about it. That sounds unfair, especially if your current working circumstances truly are awful, but it’s important to come across as positive as possible and focus on the opportunity ahead of you rather than the difficulties you’re walking away from.
Instead, say “I feel I’ve accomplished all I can and am ready to make a change.”
Don’t say “I don’t have any experience in that.”
With any new job, there are going to be aspects of the role that are new to you. That’s completely normal and okay, and something that your prospective employer will fully expect. However, phrasing it this way comes across as a little negative as well as unenthusiastic. If an area of discussion arises that you’re unfamiliar with, explain what you know already, and express that you’re keen to learn more.
Instead say “I’ve got experience in X as well as training in Y, so I’m keen to learn more about this area and use my existing skills to progress quickly.”
Don’t say “This is my dream job.”
Whilst there’s always the chance that the statement is true, this is another phrase that has lost its meaning due to overuse, and there are much more effective ways to convey your enthusiasm with substance. Communicate to the employer exactly what excites you about the role along with how you’d harness that energy to overcome possible challenges.
Instead say “I’m really excited about the possibilities and challenges this role entails, and feel it would be an excellent match for my skill set.”