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What Not to Do in an Interview: Part II

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. Last week we talked about oversharing, which many of you said you were guilty of (me too!). To see the next tip,


Don't badmouth your previous employer.
Another potential interview minefield is the subject of why you’re looking for a new job in the first place. If the reason you left your previous job isn’t obvious (you relocated, the company closed down, etc.), your interviewer may ask you directly why you left. When you’re fresh off of an unpleasant work experience, it can be tempting to fill your prospective employer in on just how bad you had it. TeamSugar member Skigurl sounds like she's been here before, and I agree that this trap is all too easy to fall into.

But before you get too far into your tirade about how underpaid you were or the micromanaging you were subjected to, consider this: would you list your ex-boyfriend’s faults on a first date with a promising new guy? Although you might feel like you’re just expressing your eagerness for a fresh start, your interviewer may perceive your rant as negative and unprofessional. Worse, it could leave her wondering what you might say about her later on down the line if you were hired.

If you’ve just left (or are looking to leave) a less-than-ideal situation, give this topic some thought ahead of time and prepare a diplomatic response. Expressing to your interviewer that you're ready for a change and are excited for new challenges, for example, gets your point across without backing yourself into a corner.


Join The Conversation
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
Great tip!
BettyRN BettyRN 8 years
Really good topic; I'm sure most of us just go in ready to answer questions without realizing there is always this tough topic that we need to have positive answers for. Thanks for the great tip!
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 8 years
Ooh, that is a good tip. Better to have something sort of mild in mind that had a good resolution.
miss-malone miss-malone 8 years
Good tips :)
Spectra Spectra 8 years
When I got asked why I left my previous job, I usually just said I left due to budget constraints and internal reorganizations. Which was partially true, but the truth of the matter is that my old boss sexually harassed us and was a TERRIBLE manager and I just couldn't take it anymore. Good thing I didn't bring that stuff up in an interview.
syako syako 8 years
This is a great tip! And it's so easy to fall into if you're not careful. Especially when there are questions like "describe a time when you disagreed with your boss?" or "describe a conflict at work and how you resolved it." I think it helps to have these responses thought out too before going in.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
goddamn, see my comment for the oversharing i have killed two bad birds with one stone by doing this in interviews good thing i have a job!
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