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‘My one weakness ...’ What not to say (and do) at a job interview

over 4 years ago by MTC Recruitment

You’ve made it through the first hurdle of the hiring process and landed an interview. Well done! That’s an achievement in itself. It means your resume stood out. Now you need to prepare to meet your prospective employers. One way to do that is to think about what not to say or do.

Don’t be late

Kind of obvious, this one - but you’d be surprised how many candidates don’t heed this advice. Plan to arrive 10 minutes before your interview. Most employers expect their staff to turn up on time for work, so if you’re late for an interview, it’s not a good sign. First impressions matter. You won’t get a second chance to make a first impression at a job interview.

It’s probably best not to be too early either, because that might be inconvenient. Show that you care about the interviewer’s time. If you are running late, make sure to call and let them know – show you understand the impact of your being late. Dress professionally - even if your everyday work clothes are different.

Don’t ask about money and holidays

If you ask about pay and holidays immediately then you’re looking at the job from your perspective and not the employers’. What an employer wants to know is: can you do the job? They will want to find out about your training and skills. Know your resumé thoroughly and be prepared to answer follow up questions on your experience.

They also want to find out: will you do the job? Your task is to convince them you are available now, motivated and hardworking. If you start talking about holidays early on then that raises questions about your commitment. The interviewer should eventually ask you about money, and then you should also have done your homework and know what payscale you expect.

Don’t speak badly about your last employer

Avoid speaking badly about your last employer and discussing any personal conflicts, but always answer truthfully. Instead, it’s better to dwell on the fact that you left because you wanted to expand your career opportunities.

That’s because the interviewer wants to establish if you will fit in with their culture. If you’ve done your research - at least by looking at their website and the full job ad or description - you’ll be able to discuss why you’d be excited to be part of their culture, giving specific examples, and how it reflects your own values. Speak about what you learned from your last role and the skills that are transferable to the job in question.

Don’t say you have no weaknesses

Many interviewers will ask you about yourself to break the ice. It’s an opportunity to outline your main qualifications and skills. Be concise. Tailor your answer to the role, explaining why you are suited. Focus on your strengths but be prepared to talk about your main weaknesses if asked.

Be humble but quietly confident. Instead of talking about “weakness” talk about “areas of improvement” that are not important for the role you are applying for. By demonstrating you are willing to develop yourself and face challenges, it shows you are self-aware.

Don’t try and be funny or familiar

We all use humour and familiarity as a way to connect with other people, but don’t do this in a job interview. Humour can have a way of falling flat in an interview situation, so it’s best to avoid it. Likewise, being overly familiar with someone on the interview panel - even if you might have met them before - isn’t going to win you any points. Until you know your prospective co-workers and managers at work it’s best not to pretend otherwise.

Good luck! Check out how MTC can help you land your dream job.