9 interview phrases not to use

Submitted by Dawn on 27th February 2020

Interviews, HR, business, employment, employment law, preparation, organisation

This month, we’ve been looking at interviews - a few do’s and don’ts. In our last blog, we examined how vital it is for interviewers to prepare properly and to avoid the weird and wacky approach.

For this blog, we’re still looking at the topic from the interviewer’s point of view - specifically the phrases you shouldn’t be using if you want to create the right impression for the interviewee. Remember - it’s not just the candidate who needs to perform and to impress. You do too. It’s vital that you do nothing to damage your company’s good name. After all, reputations spread quickly - especially negative ones.
So - here are nine phrases to avoid:-

1. ‘Sorry I’m late’
Not a good start. The applicant has demonstrated their professionalism by arriving on, or possibly ahead of, time. What makes you think that you’re too important to take the same approach?

2. ‘We’re looking for a rock star’
This phrase also includes Rock Star’s cousins - Genius, Guru, Wizard and Ninja.
In recent years, the use of unusual job titles to convey creative and out-of-the-box company cultures has been on the increase. They rarely work. Instead of highlighting the need for exceptional skills, these titles usually come across as ‘cringeworthy’. The job may sound unique at first glance, but further details can make it far from extraordinary.
Rock star’ job titles can also create confusion with the required skills, duties, expected outputs, and salary range. Since there are no direct equivalents, it’s hard for the candidate to decide if they want to pursue this opening. The other question they’ll be asking is, ‘do I want this on my CV?

3. ‘We wanted to reach out to you’
This phrase may seem innocent enough, but the implications can make the recruiters seem condescending. ‘Reaching out’ to the candidate sounds as though the latter is in a hole and that you’re offering to rescue them from their dire predicament.

4. ‘We’re a company that’s going places - there’s no time to waste’
For a candidate, accepting a job offer is often a life-changing and career-changing decision - not one to be rushed. By applying pressure for a decision, you could easily put your applicant off altogether. And what if they bow to your pressure and make a hasty decision to accept? They might end up leaving the company sooner than you’d like - bad for you and for them.

5. ‘Actually, the job description is loose’
There’s every chance that your candidate has applied for the vacancy because they see themselves as a good fit for the job description. How will they feel when they learn that the job bears little relation to the one they applied for? This makes your organisation appear unprofessional. It gives the impression that either you’re unsure of the skills and qualifications needed or you’re intentionally obscuring the nature of the job.

6. ‘This job has a high turnover rate’
This remark will definitely sow serious seeds of doubt in the mind of the candidate. What’s the problem with this position? Are the expectations too high? Is the job too difficult to handle? Is the work environment hindering performance and growth? Even if they’re a great fit for the role, the candidate may well decide on the spot, not to pursue the role beyond the interview.

7. ‘The last person in this role was a disaster’
This comment will say more about you than about them. The candidate will have little idea of the previous employee’s experience, background or skills. How will they be able to prove that they are better? This unprofessional remark also tells the candidate that, should they eventually part with your company, you might badmouth them to future applicants or other industry professionals.

8. ‘Why should we choose you ahead of the other candidates for the job?’
You often hear this question asked of candidates. It might be asked to judge the candidate’s capabilities and how they can contribute to the company. But this question is unfair to the candidate. After all, how can they know about their fellow candidates’ skills and experience? To put a candidate on the spot and demand that they make a comparison that they can’t possibly make is simply unfair.  At worst, a question like this could even prompt applicants to boast of skills they don’t have. There are better questions to ask to give you a clearer picture of a candidate’s skill-set.

9. ‘What are your weaknesses?’
Yet another classic in the job interview playbook. Interviewers usually ask this question as a follow-up to a question about strengths. It’s a silly and unsettling question. After all, who would willingly admit to shortcomings that make them sound unfit for the role? Much better to ask situational questions that draw from the applicant’s experiences.

The job interview - a vital tool for interviewers and candidates alike
The function of the job interview is to support recruiters and employers to match people to job openings. It’s not enough to just conduct a search. You need to convince yourself and them that this opportunity is the right fit for them. An awkward, clunky job interview that places your company in a poor light or fails to gain the necessary insights will waste any hard work you’ve done to select these candidates. On the other hand, use the right words in the right way, and your chances of finding a great candidate will improve no end.

Here to help
Using the right words is all about preparation. This expertise doesn’t come naturally. It requires training.  
We’re HR specialists. We understand the dynamics of the job interview - what works and what doesn’t. We’re perfectly equipped to help you with every aspect of your interviewing processes. Would you like to know more? We’d love to hear from you.

For straight-talking advice on all HR issues, call us - 01604 763494
Or email - info@GravitasHR.co.uk