4 Words That Will Kill Your Chances of That Second Interview

4 Words That Will Kill Your Chances of That Second Interview (1)

There’s lots of talk about interviews – how to answer questions, how to pitch your strengths, how to show your best hand when explaining not so great moments in your career…

But – and it’s a BIG but –  in my experience, even if someone answers all the questions in the right way, it only takes a few words to suddenly cross them off the hypothetical short list.

It may seem trivial, but there are certain words and phrases that will turn every prospective interviewer off.

And you need to be aware of them, as they are more common than you may think.

Here are 4 to watch out for….


Yes, of course, benefits are important. And you should be asking, but not now. Asking what’s in it for you at this stage can be a total ‘no’. Even if well justified, it can come across as self-interested or too one-sided. Your first interview is your opportunity to make them want YOU, more than you want THEM. Even if you’re on the fence about the opportunity – don’t ask.

Flexible (working)

Don’t get me wrong – flexible working should be something that all businesses offer.

But, in a first interview, mentioning flexible working when it’s not on the cards is a little like asking about benefits. Unintentionally, it can set the wrong tone. If flexible working is a must for you this is something you should be talking to your recruitment consultant about or have broached outside of the context of the first interview. Don’t just bring it up here.

(Wrong) Culture 

Culture is the bedrock of organisational success.

However, don’t ever use it as an excuse for wanting to move on from your current role, or as a reason for leaving a past one. Speaking negatively about a previous employer (even if it’s well justified) is an absolute no, and in an interview situation, will likely reflect more so on you, than on the company you’re talking about.

Likewise, don’t elaborate on that amazing, utopian culture you REALLY WANT to work in. You may come across as lacking accountability for creating a great culture around you, personally.


When you were at a professional ‘expert’ level, or studying for exams, being a perfectionist was probably a good thing.

It rarely is in the business world. Not because attention to detail isn’t a good thing, but perfectionism can be inhibiting. It can stop you from driving forward momentum on critical items that need to be delivered. It can create debilitating cultures. It can also distort focus away from ‘real’ commercial priorities where perfection isn’t sought – so be extremely careful how you use it.

Just remember the first interview is about giving your interviewer what they want, in the way they want to hear it. You want to create such a good impression that when you come back to the second interview, you’re on a level playing field in which you can have a much more robust, peer-like conversation – then, and only then, can you talk benefits!

Good luck!



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