You’re in the middle of a job interview and out slips something dumb and regrettable. It could be a comment like this one that a job hunter uttered and found himself immediately apologizing for: “Why do you want this job?” the interviewer asked. “I’m looking for friends,” the candidate said.
“I knew the minute I said it [that] it was the wrong thing to say,” he said. “It just popped into my head.”
He didn’t get the job. After all, how was making friends at the company going to help the firm sell its products?
Sometimes a blunder happens at the end of the interview when things are winding down and you’re feeling more relaxed. Sometimes you’re just unaware, not thinking. Maybe you’ve gotten too chummy or you don’t consider the consequences of your words.
“It’s as if we have no filter between our brain and our mouth,” said BJ Gallagher, author of “Why Don’t I Do the Things I Know Are Good for Me?” Other times stress is a culprit. A lot of people can’t stand silence. And if they don’t know what to say, out comes whatever comes to mind.
To be more in control of what you say, at a minimum, think through how you would respond to the typical questions most employers will ask:
■Tell me about yourself.
■Why would you want to work here?
■What is it about the job that interests you?
■What do you bring to the position?
■What do you know about us?
■How will you make a difference?
Practice what you would say, keeping in mind how your responses would sound to an employer. But in addition to rehearsing your responses, practice being less impulsive. Slow down. Before you speak, count one, two, three, four, five. Nothing is wrong with a little silence.