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What Not to Do in an Interview, Part I

As companies shed more jobs and hire fewer new employees, having an impressive resume and perfectly polished interview skills are crucial. Giving applicants the benefit of the doubt is a luxury that employers — who are often pinching pennies and learning to do more with less — just don’t have.

I've given you lots of suggestions for what you should be doing in an interview — but what about what you shouldn’t be doing? Over the next few weeks, I'll cover some of the biggest interview faux pas you may not even realize you’re committing. To see the first one,


Don’t overshare.
When employers ask open-ended questions like "How did you end up in this field?" or "Tell me a little bit about your background," it can feel like an invitation to launch into your life story. I've interviewed applicants who’ve answered these questions with everything from stories about their loveless marriages and ensuing divorces to rants on their political views.

The best way to avoid this pitfall is to remember that at the root of every interview question is a more basic question: Why are you the right person for the job? While letting your personality come through during your interview is important, divulging too much personal information is unprofessional and distracting to the employer.

Answer general questions like these thoroughly but concisely, leaving out details like your recent breakup with your boyfriend or your persistent health concerns. If you feel that you’re beginning to ramble, ask yourself, "Am I still addressing the question?" If not, it’s probably a smart move to steer away from the amusing anecdote about your last trip to Europe, and back to the topic at hand.


Join The Conversation
kiwishe kiwishe 8 years
I don't think there's a specific tip, over sharing and under sharing information, that "wins" you over in an interview. If the interviewer(s) and interviewee's personalities don't mesh in the first few minutes, you'll be discounted just for that reason. I've overshared, and the interviewers apparently thought I was falsifying my detailed varied background because I looked so young.
almostloli almostloli 8 years
nice tip! i managed not to ramble today! i was invited for an interview today, i was so nervous! because i really want to join them
bchicgrl bchicgrl 8 years
I over shared on a few interviews and didn't get the job. Now its obvious as to why but it's still hard to not talk to much (I was the chatterbox in school). I'm glad I don't need to worry about that at the moment but it's good to see these hints because you never know when you will dusting off the suit and polishing the resume.
BettyRN BettyRN 8 years
This is great, so relevant to me right now-hurry up part II !
heatherhas heatherhas 8 years
Thats true, its hard to stop sometimes when you start rambling. I have a funny interview story, from a few weeks ago to share. I was wearing my freshly starched, long-sleeve, oxford shirt and I went to brush my hair out of my face and my shirt ripped at the elbow! :oops: Luckly they didn't notice, or hear it, but I was quick to put my jacket back on when we were done. Oh yeah, so smooth 8)
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
I tend to go a little overboard but usually try to reel it in.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I really had to watch this when I was interviewing for my current job because my background in food microbiology was relevant, but not very applicable to what I'd be doing. So I focused more on my micro research skills and the fact that I had good technique and a broad knowledge base...basically letting them know that I had a good amount of background and I was willing and able to build on it and learn more.
stephley stephley 8 years
I gotta say, oversharing got me my first job in a newsroom - the woman hiring thought I was funny. It was purely accidental though.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
guilty i somehow always manage to overshare why my previous boss (who was my boss during my coop) didn't hire me fulltime once i graduated (but gives me a glowing reference and we had a positive working relationship) and it always ends up coming out making her sound like a jerk (which she was but i know i'm not supposed to badmouth other people in my interview) - but i feel like as i'm telling the story, i have to continue and make her to be the bad guy or else i'm going to come off bad no matter what hopefully that won't be an issue any longer since i have a job and i'm sure the next time i interview, this job will be the focus, not my coop job
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