5 Things You Never Reveal During Job Interview

The interview can be the first and last chance you get to enrich the information on your resume with deeper insights into who you are and what you can do. Resumes are a one-dimensional preview of your work experience and about 10% personality, so the interview is the opportunity to bring greater depth to your background. The hiring manager and interview team get the opportunity to evaluate your compatibility with the skill set necessary for the role and your cultural fit in the organization. They want to know about you; what makes you tick, how you got where you are, how you manage responsibility, what you aspire to be, etc.  While transparency is important as being authentic you need to balance revealing just enough and oversharing the personal. Too much personal information can obscure the interviewer’s focus on your business acumen and overshadow your skills.

Below are 5 things you should never discuss during the interview process to keep the balance between business and personal.  

1. Getting too Personal

In a nutshell, interviewers want to know what challenges you have faced, what you did to overcome, why you chose that strategy, what the result was from those actions, and what you have learned. Personal details are irrelevant in explaining how you accomplished those successes. When asked questions about your ability to the meet generic requirements of the job, keep your answers short and direct, Can you work the specified hours, can you commute to the office, can you lift 20lbs without discomfort, etc?  Give a true answer and move on, a simple “Yes” and nothing more is appropriate. Discussing dropping kids off at school, recent car repairs, sick family, etc are unnecessary details that could cloud an interviewer’s judgment of your answer and are irrelevant. 

Unless you need a medical accommodation, divulging details about your medical history or the history of those in your household is too much personal information. Never discuss your personal views on subjects such as politics, religion, and the economy, unless these topics are job-related.

While it’s important to get your personality out there during an interview many candidates reveal too many private details like information concerning messy divorces, illness, financial hardships, and the like.  Personal information that many job candidates share while trying to be personable can be job interview killers because it can skew an interviewer’s evaluation of your ability to do the job. I would warn candidates against revealing family information because this may give employers an opportunity to hold that against them. The negative connotation may not be intentional, but if you mention you have toddlers at home, and the job requires some evenings, an interviewer might think you will not be available during unconventional hours, even if you know you have reliable childcare.  Candidates should focus instead on sharing information that demonstrates their skills and abilities while leaving out family information. 

2. Bashing Current or Past Employers/Co-Workers

Don’t bash and speak overly negatively about a current or previous employer during an interview. Whether the criticism is deserved or not a hiring manager will imagine you doing the same thing to them in the future. During an interview it is irrelevant to share there were problems with your old boss or coworkers, the hiring manager could assume if there was a problem there you might have a problem everywhere.

Every hiring and interview team will ask about your current and past employment situations and why you are interviewing with them. Be honest in the discussion of your job history but keep it brief and professional. Lying never works out.  If you are no longer at the company, explain why. If you were let go, be honest, but make a short statement about what you learned. If by chance your last manager will still serve as a reference, then mention that, too.  Be prepared for questions about job changes and current employment situation, it’s a small network in most industries, so trashing an employer and affect you for the rest of your career. 

3. Unfiltered Reasons for Looking for a New Job

Be truthful but careful in explaining your reason for changing jobs and/or wanting a new job.  While everyone wants to make more money saying so in an interview gives an indication to the employer that you will leave them too if the price is right. You must be thoughtful in your answers because your answers may not be perceived the way you intended.

The best recommendation is to describe how you enjoyed working with the current or past employer, and what you learned during your time there, and then explain how you feel this opportunity could provide you an opportunity to use what you learned at previous employers and build upon it in a new way. Close the statement by focusing on how this position enables you to take the next step in your development while flexing your current skill set for the betterment of the company. 

4. Discusses Weaknesses to Deeply

Usually asked in tandem with, What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? These are questions that can trip up even the best candidates.  When asked about a weakness it’s best to be real but be prepared.  Discuss a weakness that you identified by challenging yourself or your team to hit a goal that was difficult.  Describe how you identified the weakness, what you decided to do to overcome the deficiency, how it made you feel to improve, and what you do to continue to improve in that area.  Framing your weakness this way shows you are self-aware, action-oriented, willing to put the work in, and continuing to develop your skill sets over time. 

Truth is important when interviewing but giving a real, unaddressed weakness shows an interviewer you failed to prepare for the question and failed to prepare for the interview.  Use real examples to show how a weakness has been overcome or improved by perseverance and hard work.  Whatever you do, do not say “perfectionist” its overused, cliché, and boring. No one likes a perfectionist. 

5. Never Let Them See you Sweat

Interviewing is a stressful and nerve-racking process for everyone but no one wants to hire a candidate that lacks confidence and looks weak. Don’t let the interview team or hiring manager see you sweat whether literally or otherwise.  Be prepared for the interview, you should feel nervous interviewing but those nerves should dissipate as you get into the interview and your preparation starts to pay off. Practice does not make perfect but it does make you look more natural and prepared to the interview team.  The chances of you blanking on an answer or divulging more than you should is reduced. 

As mentioned in previous blogs, wear appropriate attire, nothing too hot or inappropriate for the season.  Offices can be cold or hot so be prepared to remove a conservative layer if necessary to regulate your body heat. Stress can cause you to sweat and your confidence and performance might melt if your brow and underarms are sweating profusely.  The key to looking and feeling calm under the pressure of interviewing is being prepared and demonstrating your expertise.