You know the old adage; it’s not what you say, but how you say it. This does not apply to interviews!

What you say is extremely important; every word choice and every sentence choice can have an impact on whether or not you are selected for a job.

We get feedback about why people are passed over for jobs every day. Most of them are very obvious (and we even coach people to avoid these items). Here are the most common errors that are made during job interviews:

  1. Highlight negative experiences about your previous positions or boss. Don’t complain about anything – your potential new boss will assume that you will someday speak about her this way too.
  2. Ask about salary and/or benefits and time off. This is a question for the final interview or for meeting with HR. Put this off as long as you can.  These questions, although very important, are not appropriate for the “getting to know you” phase.  Think of it as akin to asking how many kids somebody wants to have on a first date – it’s a serious faux pas.
  3. Say anything out of the ordinary to the receptionist. Whatever you say will get passed along to the decision makers, and they may not share your sense of humor.
  4. Be racist. Sounds pretty basic right? You would be amazed what people say; especially when they are the same ethnicity as their interviewer. Do not generalize and use stereotypes, ever.
  5. Be sarcastic. Interviewees often get too “chummy” and let their guard down. They try to be sarcastic and funny and often rub an interviewer the wrong way.  It only takes one person at the company to say no to your candidacy. It’s important that you are liked, but it’s not important that you are funny – yet.

Focus on positive responses and a can-do approach to your interviews. Everything you say matters.