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  • What Happens: The interviewer asks about a specific skill or industry tool, and the candidate responds with either: “I may have seen that before,” or “I am pretty sure this is how it works.”

  • What It Means: The candidate is not 100 percent confident in his answer and does not have the personal and professional experience you are asking for. If the candidate did possess these skills, the candidate would have answered with definitive words such as, “I do,” “I know,” or “I have.”

  • What to Do: Prompt them to clarify their response by asking, “Have you actually done this before or used this tool in the past?” Specifically, ask them to cite a concrete example of how they have successfully used the tools in his their past work.

Bashing a former employer

  • What Happens: When the candidate is asked about his current or last employer, the candidate provides you with negative feedback in the form of harsh criticisms, such as “my boss was the worst,” or “I hate my current job.”

  • What It Means: By sharing this type of harmful information, the candidate has the questionable judgment and may have difficulty framing negative situations in a more professionally objective way.

  • What to Do: In this situation, try to empathize with the candidate (since some employment situations can be complicated) and challenge them to tell you what was good about this job. This provides the candidate with a chance to recast their response more positively and professionally.


  • What Happens: When the interviewer asks about professional weaknesses, the candidate responds with, “My biggest weakness is that I work too hard” or “My biggest weakness is I pay too much attention to detail.”

  • What It Means: They are not honest about what real tasks they need to work on and what skills need improvement.

  • What to Do: Instead of asking the candidate what they think his biggest weakness is, ask them instead what their boss or coworkers would say their most significant area of weakness is. This approach will entice the interviewee to provide a more honest response. Ask them for the name of this person. This can also trigger a more authentic response.