Friday, November 14, 2014

I find the rules about what not to say in an interview a little too rigid...

...but I am an over-sharer. And I probably think I am funnier than I am.

Seriously, with all of the "do this" and "don't do that" associated with applying and interviewing for a new job, you might start to feel like a robot. Wait, robots don't have feelings. I'm confused.

You can pay attention to lists like this that tell you what not to say in an interview, but don't get so wrapped up in this stuff that you don't show your interviewer who you really are. Because they really do want to know what makes you tick.

For example, the recommendation to avoid "I didn't get along with my boss"...well, sometimes you don't get along with your boss. So if you were to follow that statement with "We had different priorities - I was uncomfortable taking some shortcuts on the security product we were working on and discussed this with my manager who unfortunately took this as a challenge to his authority.  I tried to repair the relationship but he wasn't interested in my opinion after this interaction and I felt I would be better off finding a new company that values customer experience as much as I do." Most interviewers I know would value the honesty and the way this imaginary candidate framed the issue really reflected well on her. Besides, your interviewer might question why your last manager isn't on your list of references.

"I'm really nervous": if there's an elephant in the room, and it makes you feel more comfortable to call it out, then do it.  Unless you are interviewing for something in sales, public speaking or other role where you really can't afford to be nervous in front of people. I mean, jeez, we are human. I don't think there's anything wrong acknowledging your nerves if they are obvious to the other person. You could follow up your statement with: "Guess it's been a while since I've had to interview but I'm sure excited to be here. I love the work you're doing with cloud services."

“Then, while I was at happy hour...”: It's hard to believe that someone has a problem with this statement. I mean don't tell them that you were at happy hour and then ripped your pants on the way home and you just don't remember how. But if you were at happy hour with some clients and ended up closing a deal with them because you took the time to learn about their challenges (over a nice glass of Cab), that's a great insight into your ability to demonstrate empathy for your clients.

So my point is to take every list of dos and don'ts with a grain of salt (plus some tequila and lime if you are the happy hour guy). Use good judgment (your own, preferably) and think about how what you say impacts peoples' impression of you as a potential employee. But let that personality shine through too. They aren't hiring a robot.

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