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Words to Avoid when Interviewing

The Pietrack Press

Words to Avoid when Interviewing

When you are in an interview, your every move is being evaluated. Your word choice is also being scrutinized, so it is important to avoid certain words or phrases. Here are a few that I caution my finalists to avoid.

1. Concerned. When evaluating a company, every candidate is going to have concerns, whether they be mild, moderate, or a red-flag. The coaching tip here is not to say that you have concerns. For instance, you want to avoid saying, “I have a concern about your ________.” Even if you do, saying it will portray a lack of interest rather than genuine intrigue. Try to craft your statement with a bit more tact by saying something like, “I’d like to better understand your _______.” If you’re feeling quite apprehensive about something regarding the company, and the initial question didn’t flesh out a good enough answer try, “When you were considering the company, how did you feel about _________?”

2. To be honest with you. We all have things we say that we don’t even know we are saying. Some of us say “ya know,” “um,” or “like” often in our everyday speech. Others say longer phrases like “the long and short of it is.” The one that I would recommend to avoid in any selling situation, which an interview is, is “to be honest with you.” As a recruiter, when I get a candidate who tosses a few of these at me, there is no way I can submit them to a client.

3. I can learn it. I’ve been called every title a recruiter can possess–headhunter, staffing consultant, executive recruiter, you name it. Regardless of what I am called, I can assure you that what I am paid to do is to find candidates who KNOW it and are already DOING it, not candidates who can LEARN it. Here is how the dialogue goes–ME:”My client is looking for someone with Cardiovascular MSL experience, do you have that?” THEM:”No, but I can learn it.” If you catch yourself wanting to say this in an interview, a useful reminder is to think about what you DO have and CAN offer. For instance, you could say something like, “Well, the experience I do have is ___________, do you feel like that would be of value?”

4. Negotiable. I usually hear the term negotiable in my initial conversation with a candidate, and I advise candidates to avoid the word all together. The word negotiable has a very negative connotation first of all. Secondly, we don’t want to negotiate at all. We want a company’s best offer the first time, and we want to accept it without pause. So, if an HR Professional asks you, “what are you looking to make if you were to accept this position?” You should want to steer clear of answering, “I’m negotiable.” For more information: http://wp.me/p2PVqk-J

5. Flexible. Very similar to the above statement, you want to stay away from saying that you’re flexible when it comes to salary. What this implies is that you’ll do all the bending and that the company doesn’t need to worry about making you a great offer. Candidates should want the company to flex the high-end of their range. I would coach you not to imply that the bottom of your range is bendable.

I hope this makes sense and is helpful in your next interview. To be honest with you, I’m flexible on some of these points and if you happen to have better ideas, I can learn it.


Michael Pietrack

About the Author: Michael Pietrack is a leading executive recruiter in a the Pharmaceutical Industry and arguably the top recruiter in the Medical Affairs space. His specific expertise is recruiting in Field Medical Affairs placing Medical Science Liaisons, and therefore, he has been dubbed “The MSL Recruiter” (www.TheMSLRecruiter.com).

What is TMAC Direct?: TMAC Direct is an executive search agency that serves the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industries. This boutique firm fills critical staffing needs on a retained, partially retained, or contingency basis. TMAC Direct is the direct-hire recruiting division of The Medical Affairs Company, commonly known as TMAC. Together TMAC and TMAC Direct, provide an unmatched staffing service in the Medical Technology arena, whether the hiring needs are on a permanent placement or outsourcing basis.

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