young graduate woman being interviewed for a job

Even experienced professionals get nervous during interviews – if there’s a role that you’re keen to secure it’s natural to feel under pressure.

When you feel apprehensive, keep calm and remember that this is your chance to make an impression. Most interviews are straightforward, as long as you’re prepared and steer clear of potential pitfalls.

To help you avoid these, we’ve listed six things to think about when you’re talking to Employers. So, take a deep breath, celebrate the fact that you’ve been offered this opportunity, and read on.

Don’t say: ‘I really need this job’ 

Job hunting is tough, but recruiters don’t need to know how long you’ve been looking for your next role, the fact that others have turned you down, or your personal circumstances. Unfortunately, keenness doesn’t always come across well. Remember, companies will hire the best person not the person who needs it the most. However, it is important to show enthusiasm. Try to achieve a balance between appearing needy and showing that you’re keen to work for someone.

Never say: ‘I don’t have experience in this area’

It’s not a good idea to volunteer a negative in an interview situation. Instead, focus on how you do meet the job description and what you have to offer. Of course, don’t say you’re good at something when you’re not, but try to come across as being confident in your abilities. When you’re asked about your experience and get stuck on a question, think around the situation and ask for clarification if you don’t understand. Always aim to give STAR answers – describing the Situation you encountered, Tasks you were given, what Actions you took and the Result of this. This will help you demonstrate what you know.

Don’t say: ‘Tell me about your company benefits’ 

As a potential Employee, you need to know the basics, such as how much you’ll be paid and your working hours. This said, questions about company benefits and specific housekeeping questions are jumping the gun and are best left until you’ve been offered the job – unless they’ve been mentioned in the advert. Use your questions to show your interest in the Employer, rather than thinking about what they can offer you. For example, you could ask about who you’ll be working with, what projects you might be working on and where they’re hoping to grow as a business in the future.

Never say: ‘I had an awful time at my last job’

This might be the case, but it doesn’t look good if you start bad-mouthing others. Recruiters want to know whether you’re a good fit for the company, someone who is a team player, on-board with their visions and values, and who will remain professional when faced with a challenge. However difficult you found your last job, you should remain positive – talk about what you accomplished there, rather than the times when you were unable to achieve what you wanted. There may be times when you’re forced to give a bit of background. For instance, if you’ve been through a redundancy you may need to explain the gap in your CV, but it’s best to be forward-thinking. Don’t hold a grudge.  Focus on the future and show that you’re ready for a new chapter.

Don’t say: ‘What does this company do?’

You should do some research before applying to the job – in order to inform your application – and once you’re offered an interview you can look at the company in greater detail. Businesses want to know why you’re interested in them, but if you don’t know what they do, you won’t be able to tell them this. Listen to Employers when they talk about the company, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, but these should be informed ones. Try not to ask anything that would be obvious to you if you’d looked on their website.

Never say: ‘This job will be a great stepping stone for me’

It’s good to have ambition, but you also need to show commitment. Hiring a new Employee is a costly process – and it takes time to embed people into a company – so if you’re not planning to stick around, this will raise alarm bells. Recruiters are looking for someone reliable who will get the job done. If you’re thinking about advancing your career, it’s better to ask about how you can progress within the company. This will show that you’re dedicated.

Kate Allen, Managing Director of Allen AssociatesAbout the author

Kate Allen is the MD of Allen Associates, one of Oxfordshire’s leading independent recruitment agencies, that specialises in Marketing, Finance, PA/Admin and HR roles. In 2018, Allen Associates launched their first London office, specialising in Marketing, HR and PA/Admin roles.