Guest Blog

What are you talking about?

Well, the day that you have been waiting for has arrived.  You have your best professional clothes on, a copy of your updated portfolio and you have researched the company thoroughly. You step into the offices of your future (fingers crossed) employer of your dreams and the interview is about to begin.

What are you talking about?
It is common to enter the interview room with a bit of nervous excitement.  Soon you may relax a bit and start to get into your interview ‘flow’ however; there are ALWAYS certain topics that you should not be talking about – ever!
I have listed below some common interview mistakes. They concern what you should discuss as well as, what once said, may take the interview to a level of unprofessionalism that could easily send you to the door wondering exactly what went wrong.
Some of the top things to consider when you ask yourself, “What am I talking about?” are:

Am I too relaxed?
Sometimes after breaking the ice, you may feel a connection with the interviewer or if you are interviewing with more than one person, they may have a familiar rapport that begins to surface.  Do not mistake this relaxed atmosphere as a ‘friendly’ environment.  Never let down your guard!  This does not mean that you should not be conversational, only that your conversation MUST remain within professional boundaries.
While complimenting the interviewers hair and make-up, or worse, their clothes, seems like a nice thing to do, it may come across as entirely too personal or, worse case scenario, even creepy.
If you have to compliment something about the interviewer, perhaps this is a great time to show that you have researched the company and understand their role within the organization or their professional achievements.
Also, and I really have to share this, do not use neighborhood slang, refer to your hood or try to gain points thinking that you can relate to the interviewer because you grew up in the same part of town.  This is weird and limits the interviewer’s impression of you to a neighborhood stereotype rather than a professional with a diverse background. If you must mention your upbringing, do so in such a way that focuses on your growth as a professional and what your past environment or experience may offer to enrich the organizational  needs and culture.

Am I too emotional?
Often, during an interview process, it is common to discuss strengths and weaknesses.  Remember, this is ONLY a request for you to share your PROFESSIONAL strengths/weaknesses.
I need to know if you can successfully support the organization in the posted position.  You must convince me of this first and also before I can take the time to find out anything else about you.
When you share a personal story of loss, heartbreak, or some other deeply distressing situation that you have overcome, the interviewer may respond to it sympathetically however, once again, that situation may be all that I can remember about you four interviews later.
Please do not cry as you share a deeply emotional story.  This really ends the interview and it is usually impossible to regroup and continue to discuss the position professionally.
It is competitive out there and you may feel the need to share more about yourself so that a connection is established and the interviewer will be more inclined to hire you.  Unfortunately, this emotional story telling stands in the way of the organization knowing that you are capable of performing the job. In addition, it makes you look like you may not be ready to handle yourself professionally in the workforce.
I hope that this is not coming across as harsh, but your interview just is not the place to be emotional. If you must share something or explain a gap in your employment that occurred during a challenging time in your life, please make a short, concise statement that shows that you experienced challenges that affected your career however, you have overcome them successfully.

Am I sharing too many negatives?
You last boss was a (fill in the blank), your company was unorganized, unethical, criminal even.  Please NEVER share this information during the interview or ever in negative terms.
Although I really want to believe that what you are sharing is truthful, if you begin speaking in negatives about your current or past employers’ I have no choice but  to make the common connection – you.  You will come across as a problem employee.  I do not have the time or resources to explore what really occurred or if, in fact, your last boss really was crazy.
It the environment in which you are currently employed is unbearable, grin and bear it!  When you are asked about your contributions, successes, challenges or reasons for seeking another organization, please be prepared to answer.  The interviewer wants to know what challenges you have faced and what you did to succeed.
For example, if you cannot find something nice to say you may stress that you were in an environment that allowed you to refine your problem solving skills, anticipate co-workers needs and improve your people skills.  You may agree that this type of statement is much better than sharing about what jerks your managers were, how your co-workers never did any work or how you had to leave the room so that you didn’t curse everyone out!

Am I trying too hard?
Your interview is a meeting to discuss whether you are a good fit for the job and if the organization is a good fit for you.  There may be some pauses during the interview.  The interviewer may have lost their train of thought or may be considering additional questions.  You do not have to fill the ‘dead air’ with meaningless filler conversation.  Do not decide to tell a joke, talk about things that you have in common with the interviewer or panic and behave oddly during this silence.
You may present a confident demeanor and patiently wait for your interviewer to collect his or her thoughts.  You may also request the opportunity to elaborate on some skill or qualification discussed earlier in the interview.

In closing, remember what you are talking about during your interview.  It is so important that you share your skills, expertise and abilities with the interviewer in such a way that they have the information that they need to make an educated decision to hire you.
Be clear, concise and never cloud the interview with personal behaviors that hide your skills and abilities.
Be prepared and know what you are talking about.

Commentary on article below by D. E.
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7 Things Not to Say During a Job Interview By Kathryn Tuggle
Published March 18, 2011| FOXBusiness