To Share or Not to Share: Avoiding TMI in Your Job Interview

Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

It's tempting to be comfortable in an interview, but it's probably best no to disclose certain details during an interview.

Meeting people can be a wonderful experience for some, great enough that you feel so comfortable as to share details about your life. While that may be good for new friendships, it's not great during an interview with a hiring manager. 

In terms of sharing too many details, doing so among friends may simply make them uncomfortable, but disclosing too much during a job interview can leave you without an offer. Here are some points to consider before offering up that next bit of info to the recruiter or hiring manager.

Don't disparage. During almost every interview process, there comes a point where the focus turns to the events that led you to the interview. All too often, it's these types of questions that open up the door to ridiculing your current or past manager. Don't take the bait. Even if your boss was or is the worst, do not go down that road. Most of us do understand that there are poor leaders in this world, but your willingness to bash a person you’ve worked closely with won’t do you any favors.

Be discreet. Better said, don't disclose that you were fired. In no way am I suggesting that you should skirt the truth, but there are more eloquent ways of phrasing a loss of employment. No matter what the circumstances surrounding your untimely departure, you don't want the potential employer to begin their initial perceptions of you negatively. Explaining that the position was simply not a good fit is probably enough to put the issue to bed.

Don't polarize. At this very moment, we’re in the middle of a political superstorm—a highly contested presidential race with both sides intensely opposed to the other. While showing your personality to the interviewer is important, avoid subjects that can create highly charged conversations. Religion and politics are the two taboo subjects that come to mind in terms of conversations to avoid during an interview. Even if you know the interviewer, keep all conversations limited to the position you’re seeking—period.

Understand the law. Most recruiters and hiring managers are well-versed legalese. Even so, not everyone who conducts interviews is aware that certain questions cannot be asked, and in doing so are in violation of the law. Your age, marital status, sexual orientation, social media credentials, and anything that relates to any physical disabilities cannot be asked during an interview. If you find yourself on the receiving end of one of these types of questions, decline politely and move forward. If you’re being pressed on one of these subjects, it is probably time for you to end the interview.

Part of the goal of any interviewee is to establish a rapport with the person conducting the interview, but sometimes too much information can squelch your hopes of obtaining new employment. Prepare for your next interview by keeping the focus on what you can bring to the new organization. 

 

 Photo credit: baranq/Shutterstock

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