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Conversational habits to break when interviewing

Janet Sun | March 10, 2014

When you’re interviewing with a company that wants to hire graduates, you need to make sure you’re in top form. Interviews and sit-downs with recruiters can be the difference between landing gainful employment after graduation or twiddling your thumbs in your room all summer long. It’s far better to be proactive during your final months at school than fall into the same habits that may result you in getting passed on for job openings.

Your time around other students and friends may have warped your conversational habits – and not for the best. Sometimes, bad habits in conversation can come back to haunt you in interviews. Here are some conversational patterns you should begin removing from your daily routine.

Clichés
For some recruiters and managers, nothing can be more grating to endure than an interview rife with clichés and unoriginal thoughts. It’s very likely that they’ve been in the industry for a very long time and have heard it all the before, so it’s understandable that they’ll run into similar answers to questions. However, these metaphors have been thoroughly exhausted by thousands of other candidates before you over the years.

Don’t tell a potential employer that you “think outside of the box” or that you’re “honest as the day is long.” It’ll only result in eye rolls and an easy removal of your name from the pool of applicants. They’re phrases that could make you seem very unoriginal, like you don’t put in the effort to really describe yourself as an employee. Begin working to phase these out of your common speech patterns and you’ll be better off when it’s time for interviews for internships and jobs.

One-ups
In your life, you’re going to run into a lot of different people who have done a variety of wide-ranging things in their lives. Everyone is always excited to share a story of a vacation overseas or a cross-country adventure. You may want to share your own story of fun or success too, but you shouldn’t do so by taking the glory away from your conversational partner. Just because you both went to Hawaii at different times doesn’t mean you need to take a “me too” response to the person’s story. You should make an effort to become more of a listener in your conversations than a one-upper. Give the other person the time to share his or her ideas and experiences with you before showing your own. Conversations are meant to go two-ways – every road shouldn’t lead to your own insight.

No accountability
It’s true that nobody wants to admit they’ve made a mistake for fear of getting in trouble, especially with higher-ups. But when it comes to starting your career with entry level college jobs, you should be practicing accountability in conversation as much as possible. It’ll be hard to stomach being wrong or causing an error, but taking the blame for your own mistakes is an admirable quality to managers. It shows that you’re not afraid to stand up for yourself and admit when you’re at fault. Rather than dodge blame, make the effort to swallow your pride when you know you’ve messed up. While you may get chewed out for it, it’s far more endearing than lying to your supervisor’s face.

Prolixity
The irony of this category is that using uncommon, arcane words can actually work against you in the interview process. While your vocabulary prowess may seem impressive, it can sometimes make recruiters believe you’re a pretentious individual. While fancy words may serve you well in papers and articles, they don’t have much of a place in a formal interview.
Someone might even think you don’t truly use these words regularly, and merely brushed up on some big sounding words prior to walking through the door. In order to avoid falling into this habit, try to practice a little more humility in your speech. Focus less on sounding impressive and more on conveying your successes and abilities through effective marketing. Improve your resume and online profiles so managers know beforehand how beneficial you can be to their company.

Interviewing can be tough, especially your first few experiences. While there’s no surefire way to adequately prepare, you can at least start breaking any bad habits you’ve developed over the years. Once you do, you’ll be ready to step into the professional world.

Category: Career News, Careers, College Life, Jobs

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