As the economy improves, many companies find themselves sitting on piles of cash. They could hire more employees, but they often hold back. When they do hire, one of the things they are looking for is a combination of skills and confidence. Not many companies are willing to spend the time and money taking on an employee that needs a lot of hand-holding and a set of expensive training courses.
It may be unfair, but the workplace environment is designed for confident, extroverted employees who don’t need a lot of supervision and who are up-to-date on new technologies.
While your alma mater may matter in some industries, where you got your degree isn’t terribly important for the most part. What matters is pairing your education and skills with lots of self-confidence. This is what gives you a competitive advantage.
This is why it’s important to avoid using the following phrases in a job interview, as they make interviewers wonder if you are really prepared to take the reins and really own your job:
1. “I’ll try…”
The word “try” leaves the door open for the possibility of failure. If the question is, “We run on very tight deadlines at ABC Company. Can you work continuously until the job is done?” then “I’ll try my best” is a soft answer on the wrong side of “yes.”
2. Any Kind of Excuse
The old “my dog ate my homework” kind of stuff destroys any professional image you might have built up to that point. “Kinko’s was closed, so I couldn’t get copies of my resume” or “I was late for the interview because my kids used the car last night and didn’t fill up the gas tank,” make you seem like the kind of person who shirks their duties. Accept responsibility and move on.
3. “I’m not sure…”
No interviewer expects you to know everything about a job, but if start every response this way, the interviewer will wonder if you know anything at all. When faced with a tough question, say so: “That’s an interesting question” is a legitimate response. Take a minute and then give an answer that you are sure of.
4. Saying “Yes” When You Should Say “No”
You can’t know everything. When you pair a “yes” with “always” or “never,” the interviewer will know something is not right. Be honest. Otherwise, you may get the job and then stress out when you realize you actually can’t do it.
5. “I was just…”
This phrase belittles your experience and accomplishments no matter how well you may have performed them. Avoid phrases like “I was just an admin assistant” or “I was just an entry-level programmer.” You held a position and did a great job, so be confident. Leave out the self-deprecating language!