We millennials tend to get a bad rap for acting lazy and entitled. While this generalization is pretty unfair, honestly, with the rookie mistakes people make at interviews, it’s no wonder. We asked Allan Ko, head of HR Service Delivery at Johnson & Johnson Asia Pacific, and Tara Santos, marketing director at The Moment Group, about the most common things young applicants have said or done that were a big turn-off. Make sure to avoid these pitfalls.
Not Doing Your Research
“I have many instances where [applicants] mention restaurants thinking they are part of our group,” Santos says. Pretending you’re familiar with the company you’re applying to when you actually aren’t just sets you up for failure. It only takes a few minutes to Google the company and find out what they’re all about.
Apart from increasing your chances of passing the interview, it’s important to check out the company you’re applying for so that you can get an idea whether their values and culture match yours. And if you’re too lazy to do that, that doesn’t bode well for how you’ll behave in the workplace.
Being Too Honest
“It’s good to be honest, but know what you should be honest about,” Santos says. For example, an applicant told her his weakness was tardiness. “Can you expound?” she asked. “I’m always late,” the applicant replied. Another interviewee told Santos she didn’t want to do administrative tasks, while another admitted that he always gets easily distracted.
While employers can smell you being fake from a mile away and it’s important to be yourself during the interview, it’s also important to play up your strengths instead of advertising your weaknesses. After all, you’re there to prove that you’re the best person for the job.
Badmouthing Your Previous Employer
Hey, we get it—your boss is awful, and that’s why you want to leave your job in the first place. But complaining too much about your current job gives people the impression that you’ll badmouth their company in the future.
“It is good to objectively point out areas of opportunity for these organizations; it is a major turn-off when the candidate whines,” Ko says. “Interviewers want to hear about your ability to power through tough situations, not about the list of things that made you bitter and quit.”
Thinking Too Much About What’s In It For You
Of course you want a good salary and benefits. Maybe you’re aiming to improve your work-life balance, too. But there’s a time and place to bring these things up, and it’s not the first interview. Instead, you should be thinking about what value you can bring to the company, and how to best communicate that to your interviewer.
“When you're being interviewed, the power is with the interviewer,” Ko explains. “Your goal is to shift the power and make them want to hire you—and the key thing for this is to know what the company is looking for and articulate what you can do to meet their need.”