It’s easy to be general about your background in a job interview. It’s also easy to focus on selling yourself — and fail to develop rapport in the process. You want to make yourself look good, of course, but if you took high school English, you probably heard “show, don’t tell.” It applies to the interview, too. Whether you follow this advice can make the difference between landing a job or not.
Below, coaches from Forbes Coaches Council help steer you away from generic statements that don’t set you apart from the competition. We asked members to name one sentence job candidates are saying in interviews that is making employers disengaged. Here is what they said:
Nine Sentences You Should Never Say In A Job Interview
Clockwise from top left: Charlotte Weeks, Laura Powers, Carol Camerino, Julie Kantor, Emily Kapit, Kim Monaghan, Jessica Miller-Merrell, Tracy Repchuk, Cheryl Lynch Simpson. All photos courtesy of the individual members.
- “I Have XYZ Skill”
“Telling It” instead of “Selling It” statements. Just saying that you have a skill is not interesting. Offering proof that you have a skill is interesting. Giving examples of past successes in a “Challenge-Action-Result” format is an easy way to sell the interviewer on your experience. – Charlotte Weeks, Weeks Career Services, Inc.
- “I’d Be Happy To Recite My Resume To You…”
When hiring managers ask you to “Tell me about yourself,” that is not an invitation to recite your entire employment history. Your answer needs to be focused on them and their needs. Develop a response that addresses the question behind the question: “Are you someone who will be a good fit within our organization’s culture and who has what it takes to succeed?” – Laura Powers, Powers Career Coaching, LLC
- “I Didn’t Visit Your Website”
Prospective employers are keen to hear candidate questions as they often telegraph interest and initiative. However, if the answer to your question is easily found online, it may indicate a lack of preparation or initiative — potential negatives that are easily avoided by reviewing a company’s website, social media sites and news mentions in advance of the interview. – Carol Camerino, Camerino Consulting, LLC and Job Seekers – Lookin
- “What Do I Have To Do To Get Promoted, And How Long Does It Take?”
When a candidate immediately asks about future jobs, it is a red flag that they aren’t interested in the job that is open. A good hire, for both the candidate and employer, is when there is a match between the employer’s needs, job responsibilities, culture, etc. and the candidate’s competence, work ethic, work style and desire for the job. – Julie Kantor, PhD, JP Kantor Consulting
- “This Is A Never-Ending Sentence”
Want to see an interviewer’s eyes glaze over? Start a response and continue for a period extending over 45-60 seconds — without re-engaging the person — and you’ll have a bored interviewer on your hands. Most questions will not require lengthy responses and, if they do, do some mock interview work to practice re-engaging with the hiring manager periodically to keep the conversation going. – Emily Kapit, MS, MRW, ACRW, CPRW, ReFresh Your Step, LLC
- “I’m A Team TISI +NaN% Player And A Hard Worker”
Don’t offer hollow, rote responses to common interview queries. Rather, address strengths-based questions by articulating how you took action, channeled your talents and gained positive (and hopefully quantifiable) results for former employers. Be brief, yet specific, and ensure your answers illustrate how your strengths will translate to profit-generating value. – Kim Monaghan, KBM Coaching & Consulting LLC
- “No, I Don’t Have Any Questions About The Position Or Company”
When a candidate doesn’t have any questions about the job, company or work environment, this sends a message to the hiring manager that the candidate hasn’t invested time into researching their company. It also tells them the candidate is not assertive. A candidate who has no questions about the job is an open invitation for a recruiter to mentally check out from the interview. – Jessica Miller-Merrell, Blogging4Jobs
- “How Much Vacation Time Do I Start With and What Are My Hours?”
A good, direct marketing copywriter can take the text and spin it to make sure every “I, me, us and we” becomes “you,” because the reader only cares about what’s in it for them. So when you go in saying things like “how much vacation time do I start with” and “what are my hours,” it turns off the interviewer. Remove yourself from the equation and come from a place of service, and the job is yours. – Tracy Repchuk, InnerSurf International Inc.
- “Tell Me About the Salary and Benefits”
He or she who mentions money first loses. Thus goes the old adage… and it’s still true much of the time. Asking salary and benefit questions too early in the interview process is deadly. Not only does it send the message that you’re only interested in what you can get from the company, it also devalues your experience and your brand. Confident professionals negotiate from a position of mutual trust and exemplify a win-win-win approach. – Cheryl Lynch Simpson, Executive Resume Rescue
Initially published on Forbes.com