How You Really Sound in Job Interviews

There’s no other way to put it: Job interviews kind of suck. They require you to talk in some weird sort of doublespeak in order to sell yourself well enough to get the job — but you also can’t sell yourself too hard (you’ll come across as desperate) or not hard enough (then you’ll look lazy). Good news, though: Fast Company’s latest video, “How You Really Sound in Job Interviews,” is here to tell you exactly what your potential employers hear when you answer some of the most common interview questions — and yes, it will make you rethink every single job interview you have ever been on. Ever. At least it’s hilarious too, though, right? It’s kind of hard to keep beating yourself up over your past mistakes when you’re simultaneously laughing your head off.

To be honest, I’m not even sure interviews really tells you what you need to know about your applicants, anyway. Part of me thinks maybe we should just do away with them altogether and replace them with a trial day on the job — that way, you can actually see how they work. I realize, though, that trial days are both horribly impractical and kind of exploitative (hi there, “entry-level marketing job” scams! ); so, interviews remain a necessary evil. Sigh.

But that doesn't mean they're inherently impossible to navigate; they just require a little careful thinking. Here are a few of my favorites, and scroll down to watch the whole video. Oh, and if you have an interview coming up soon yourself? Good luck — I’m sure you’ll do great!

You say: “Sorry I’m late — there was so much traffic.”

This might actually be the truth — I habitually leave way earlier than I have to (30 minutes, give or take, because I’m a tiny bit nuts about punctuality), and still been late because my train got stuck in the subway tunnel for 45 minutes — but no matter what the real life circumstances are…

They hear: “I just don’t care about your time!”

I have also been on this end of things. It sucks. Don’t be late.

You say: “What happened with my last job? They really didn’t know how to take advantage of my skills.”

This is always a tricky question to answer; the fault really might lie with your old company, but you can’t just say that. Furthermore, when you say something like this…

They hear: “I have no skills.”

Yeah… not so good. Career Nook has some good pointers about how to handle the “why did you/are you job searching right now?” question, though — the key is to keep it positive.

You say: “My biggest flaw is that I’m a perfectionist.”

Like questions about why you left your previous job, questions about what you consider your biggest flaws are also big, huge, terrifying minefields. Our impulse is generally to paint one of our positives as a negative so it won’t reflect badly on us. But the problem with that is…

They hear: “My biggest flaw is that I’m an asshole and a liar.”

According to Forbes, the best way to go is first to identify your actual weaknesses correctly and be honest about them — but also be able to speak about a time or two you’ve conquered them. The question is less about your actual skills and more about your character.

You say: “Do I have any questions for you? What’s your vacation policy like?”

No matter how innocently you ask…

They hear: “I can’t wait to not be at my new job!”

Benefits are something you talk about and negotiate once you’ve actually been offered the job — not before.

You say: “Why should I get this job? I really want it.”

That may be, but…

They hear: “I’m the most desperate person you’ve ever met.”

Ah, the smell of desperation: Putting off potential employers and first dates since the dawn of time.

Watch the whole video below:

Images: Fast Company (10)