To some extent, you want to be yourself in an interview (unless you’re totally bonkers. If you are, good luck). And even though it’s not particularly effective to just give answers you think the interviewer wants, and there isn’t usually one right answer to a question you’re asked, there are some answers that are just plain wrong. Here are some:
- If asked, “What do you know about us?” don’t answer “I read on my buddy Mike’s Facebook page that your CEO’s a total perv.” Best to relay positive info about the company.
- When asked, “How does this position fit with your future goals?” don’t respond with “I have no idea. I just go where the wind takes me.” Now, it’s not always a bad idea to follow your instincts, unless your instincts tell you to hop up on the interviewer’s desk, piss on his keyboard and shout “I’m freeeeeeeee!” However, an employer wants to get a general idea of whether or not the position for which you’re interviewing makes sense in terms of where you want to go professionally. Also, being goal-oriented is generally seen as more desirable than subscribing to the Wind Approach to Career Planning.
- When asked, “What’s your understanding of the position?” don’t say, “Not much – the job description on your site was pretty confusing.” First of all, this answer wouldn’t make you sound very bright. Second, you don’t want to criticize the employer’s job description-writing ability or anything else in an interview. Third, if you haven’t been able to figure out what the job is, and you have no idea whether or not it’s a good fit with your talents and desires, why are you even there?
- When asked, “Why did you leave your last job?” don’t say, “They canned me for ogling my boss’s boobs.” Even if you were fired for embezzlement, you don’t need to give specific details about what it was like to be led out of the office in handcuffs. “It wasn’t a good fit” is a better answer – think of a reason why it wasn’t a good fit that sounds positive in terms of your strengths and preferred environment. Only give contact info for references you know will say good stuff about you.
- If asked, “What would you say are your primary strengths?” don’t respond with “TV wrestling trivia.” Think about what you’re strong in that will make you a success in the position.
- When asked, “What salary are you looking for?” don’t say “Whatever you think – I’m easy.” Even in a tight job market, you have value; don’t undersell yourself. It’s best to ask what the range is, then say it’s in your range. Don’t give a specific number before you have an offer, ‘cuz that would be like pulling out a condom when you first meet your blind date.
- If asked, “Can you give me an example of a time when you handled a conflict with a colleague?” don’t answer “There were so many of those, I’ll need a couple of minutes to pick one.” Even if it’s true and it wasn’t you (yeah, we know – it was them, all them), that’s not going to sound too good. The employer’ll either think that you’re an irritating asshole who can’t get along with anyone, or that you’re an irritating asshole who makes snide remarks about his former co-workers. Think of an example that focuses on a problem that needed to be solved, rather than a personal kind of conflict. And of course, how you resolved it successfully.