Welcome to Day 4 of 30 Days of Q&A.

Today we are going to talk about what not to say in a job interview.

For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Janine Esbrand and I am the founder of LightBOX Coaching where I help women to build a career that they love whilst raising a family.

Now, one of the questions that I got asked is what not to say in a job interview.  When you are preparing for an interview, what should not you say?

When I got asked that question, it reminded me of a time when a friend of mine told me about her interview experience. I asked how her interview had gone and she said it was going really well up until she got towards the end of the interview. The interviewer asked her why she wants the job and her mind went completely blank. She didn’t have anything to say when they said why do you want the job.

I think the question is actually, “Why should we hire you?

Her response was, “I really need this job and I really want this job.” Full stop.

That is just what she has to say. Needless to say, she didn’t get the job because that question was where she fell down. I am going to talk through today five different things you should avoid saying in interview or five different ways that you should avoid answering in interviews.


I am going to share with you what not to say.

Try to not over share with some of the questions.

The first question that you might get asked is, “So, tell me a bit about yourself.” This sometimes throws people off because they don’t really know how much detail they are supposed to go into. When they say tell me about yourself, do they mean your personal life or do they mean your professional life?

Some people just approach this in the wrong way and then just share way too much information and go off on the tangent about their whole life story and then kind of forget why they were answering the question. It just goes on forever. The interviewer is just waiting to get started properly with the interview.

When you are asked that question tell me about yourself, really what you want to do is talk about your professional history. Talk about what has led you to this position now. So, you talk about your degree, your studies, the jobs you had after that and then leading up to where you are in the present day. You can clue in a little bit about yourself on a personal level. But you don’t want to go in to too much detail about your whole life. It is not what they want to know. They are asking you because they wanted to know about your background. Yes, they would have seen your CV or cover letter at your application form. But they might not be going to personally review it. They might have had someone in HR review it and now they are interviewing. Don’t assume that they know everything. Just tell them and walk them through your career history when you answer that question. That’s the first one. Don’t go off on the tangent about your personal life too much when they ask you about telling about you.

The question about your weaknesses

This is a question that a lot of people don’t like to answer. I mean it is really difficult to answer. But one of the responses that have become super-duper cliché is that I am a perfectionist. So, people would say, “I am a perfectionist and I really like to do everything right. So, sometimes that causes me issues because I take too long to get tasks done and then I can’t progress to other tasks”. This is an answer that has just been killed. So many people say that. It is so cliché that it has not really given a searching employer an insight into you as a person.

With that weaknesses question, you want to really think about how I can be genuine here, what are my weaknesses. You can state what they are but then you can talk about how you have gone about mitigating those weaknesses. What are the steps you are taking into improve those? For example, if you are somebody who is not good at delegating, you can talk about how you made a conscious effort to be able to figure out what task can go to somebody else. Or if you are somebody who lacks attention to detail, you can talk about how you try to slow down in your approach to your work or your tried to implement the things that are helping you to get better at that. Do talk about the weaknesses because everyone has them. You can also counter with your strengths. You can talk about what your weaknesses are when you are answering the question but then you can also touch up all the other works where your strengths are. That balances out those weaknesses as well. I will definitely say that you need to focus there. But don’t say I am a perfectionist because everyone said that so many times. It just comes across as not really genuine because it has become so cliché.

If you ask questions about the role, organisation or the interviewer that are too obvious

These are the questions where you could have gotten the answer by doing a bit of research. You don’t want to do that. You don’t want to say, “Okay, well, tell me about this job or tell me about the organisation. Can you tell me a bit more about what you do?” All of that is information that you can found out when you research in before you go into interviews. You don’t want to give the impression that you haven’t spent the time finding out the information that is readily available to you. So, don’t ask the questions that you absolutely could have found out beforehand because that doesn’t really give a good impression. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

That is a common question. Where do you see yourself in 3 years? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What they want to get at is what your future plans are, what your motivations are. So, one of the things that you don’t want to do is say something like, “I want to be in your position.” That does show ambition. You are showing that you don’t just want to stay where you are. But you don’t want to just go in there and be showing that you want to take that person’s position. It doesn’t come off right. Yes, you do have ambition and you want to grow with the company. But to say I want to be in your shoes; I want to be a manager like you; I want to get to your particular position; just is not the necessary right approach. It might be fine for some people, but it might rub people at the wrong way. Hey, you want to be a part and take my role and that is not something that everyone wants to give up. Just think about how you are communicating what your 5-year plan or future plan is.

‘Why you?’ question

Often towards the end of the interview, you will get opportunity to say why should you be hired against above and beyond other candidates. This is your opportunity to shine. This is your opportunity to fill in anything that has not come up previously in the interview. You want to bring that in. You don’t want to take the approach of my friend at the beginning that I mentioned. They asked why you and her response were because I want the job.

You want to be showing why you in terms of your skills and how it matches to what they are looking for and your suitability. This is your time to kind of list out and show your confidence. Show what your skills are and demonstrating that you have done research about the organisation; role and you are able to match your experience and expertise with what they are looking out for in the role.  Don’t be giving one-liners at this time. This is your time to bring it all out and make sure that when you leave the interview you have told them what you wanted to tell them. Because you can’t assume that they know everything about you. So, you want to make sure that you are sharing the right things when you answer that question.

To recap, the first thing is you don’t over share. You don’t want to give too much information about your personal life when they just want to know about your professional background. You want to make sure that when you are talking about your weaknesses that you are being genuine, and you are showing how you are going about to mitigate some of your weaknesses. You want to make sure that you are not saying that in 5 years’ time, you want to take the person’s role. But you are showing what your ambitions are and how you see your career progress within the next 5 years. You don’t want to be asking questions about the role and organisations that are really obvious or one thing you could have researched and find out about online previously by looking at website or company promotion materials. Then you want to not be giving one-liners to the question why you. You want to make sure that you are bringing everything in, that you want them to know and you need them to know about you and your suitability for the role. So, those are what not to say and what to say when you are interviewing.

I hope you find this useful. This is Day 4 of 30 Days of Q&A. If you have found this useful and you liked this video, please share with any of your friends or family whom are job searching because they might find this same as useful.

Also, I decided that because there will be so many videos and we will cover so many different topics over the 30 days, I am going to bring these all together in one place. So that you can log in and access all of the videos as when you want to – simply fill in the form below.

Do come and join me in my private Facebook group, Careers Beyond Motherhood community, where we can continue this conversation. If you have any questions about this topic, you can connect with some other like-minded awesome Mums who are committed to growing and building their careers beyond motherhood.


Share with a friend
Pin Share
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial

Enjoy this episode? Please spread the word :)