Whenever I have an interview coming up, I go through my preparation process.  By the time the interview arrives, I know exactly what I want to say, at least to the standard interview questions I’ve encountered before, and I’ve prepared questions to ask – if the topics don’t come up naturally.

However, it’s also a good idea to make a clear list of the subjects you would rather not discuss, and how you will handle the situation if and/or when these topics do arise.  Here are some ideas from the recruiters at Artisan Creative about things to avoid on your interview – and some positive alternatives:

Talent Manager, Laura Burns:

  • Avoid saying anything negative about your former employer. Rather, plan to talk about a good relationship you had with the company and how that helped you do a better job.
  • Don’t talk about your personal life, even if the interviewer does. It is very easy to get caught following their lead. Try to steer the conversation back to the workplace.
  • Don’t talk about salary or benefits right at the start. If you’re working with a recruiter, let them discuss those items for you. They can probably get you a better package and will most likely have more experience negotiating than you do.

Creative Recruiting Manager, Jamie Grossman:

  • Don’t take credit for a whole project – even if you think it sounds better. Instead, discuss your accomplishments and how you worked with all those involved in the project. Employers like to know that you are a good at collaborating, too.

Sr Account Manager & Recruiter, Carol Conforti:

  • Instead of “I hated my last boss,“ say “I did not share the management philosophy.”
  • If you didn’t get along with someone try “my coworkers and I had different ideas about how things should be done.”
  • Don’t look for a promotion before you get hired. However, you can say “I feel very capable of doing a great job; is there a career path for this role?”
  • Instead of “When can I get a raise?” try “What is the review process here?”
  • Avoid asking “Do people work hard or spend long hours here?” If you want to know, say, “What is a typical day like here?”
  • Always have a question ready. Even if you don’t really have any, try, “What are the next steps?”

And a recent addition to the team, Account Manager & Recruiter, Melinda Geniza:

  • Always put a positive spin on your challenging experiences and talk about lessons learned.
  • Don’t be too modest about your achievements or contributions on certain projects: Avoid statements like “this was just a little thing I did…”
  • Generalities when describing your work are not as effective as specifics. Use technical language and details when talking about your process.
  • Don’t come across like you aren’t interested in the job. Even if it’s not your dream job, you must be interested or you wouldn’t be at the interview. Interviewers can pick up on your lack of enthusiasm through body language and eye contact.

I hope you got the theme in these answers. As the song says, “Accentuate the positive!” Prepare yourself to talk about your previous employer, your experience and your hopes for working in the future in a positive light and your interview is sure to go well!

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative