I once had a phone interview with a candidate whilst having the most distressing sore throat. My voice had turned scruffy and gruff, and I sounded really exhausted despite my best efforts not to.
Upon making my first introductions to the candidate, she laughed aloud.
She proceeded to ask if I had just woken up, because my voice sounded like I had “just gotten out of bed.”
Needless to say, I never wanted to speak to her ever again, much less invite her to join my team.
Every day, Shopee makes thousands of phone calls to prospective candidates.
We’ve heard from the most delightful to the most vexing, the most outstanding to the most improper. Regardless of which description you fall into, it’s always good to have a guideline for avoidance or self-reflection.
Presenting to you our recruiters’ realest nightmares – 8 things you shouldn’t say during your interview (and what you can do instead)!
On preliminary questions
1. “I’m sorry… Which company is this again?”
Shopee’s recruiters usually reach out via email or WhatsApp to arrange for a phone call, so there’s really no reason for you to be forgetting who you’re speaking to.
Instead, try: Writing important details (e.g. company, role, recruiter’s name, job description) down on a notepad. Keep the notepad close to you during the phone interview.
2. “Which role did I apply for?”
If you’ve been sending out 50 resumes on a daily basis, forgetting a role or two will be inevitable. That said, you should be paying extra attention to the company that’s getting back to you.
Instead, try: Doing your homework prior to the call. Read the job description, and focus during the interview. Make the most of your recruiter’s time (and yours)!
On motivations for applying
3. “I couldn’t make it for the application period at another company, so I thought I’d try yours.”
Even if this is the solid, God-fearing truth, don’t say it to your recruiter. Not all of us get our ideal roles/companies on our first try; deciding to work elsewhere (before trying a second time) is indeed clever. There’re bills to pay and we get it!
Instead, try: Being wise about what comes out from your mouth. Some things are better left unsaid!
4. “I’m applying because I need a job.”
Recruiters like to ask “why did you apply to join us?” as a way of separating serious candidates from the rest. It’s their way of testing your attitude, and whether you’re more of a giver or a taker.
Instead, try: Thinking about the company’s perceived needs and how you can meet them. If your personal interests and ambitions are relevant to the role, mention them so the recruiter can see that you’re a good match.
On job descriptions and roles
5. “I’m interested in everything, so any role you give me will be ok.”
Recruiters like candidates who are genuinely interested in fighting for a particular role, so don’t speak as if you have no direction for this season you’re in.
Instead, try: Choosing one particular role (and its relevant skill set) and going all out for it. If you really are interested in more than one vacancy, express your desire to learn from hands-on practice and ask if an internal transfer will be possible at a later date.
6. “I can refuse to do tasks outside of the job description, right?”
No matter where you go, you’ll inevitably encounter requests to work outside of your usual job scope. What’s left is your attitude towards expanding out of your comfort zone – managing your time, your boss and his/her expectations, and the resources you’ve been given.
Instead, try: Taking it positively and being less calculative. You reap what you sow – for every additional task you take on, there’s a learning opportunity contained within. You can scream for help when you’re overwhelmed, but for now, look at the lighter side of the coin!
On remuneration and benefits
7. “Before you ask your first question, I want you to know that I’ll consider the role only if the offered salary is high enough.”
Chances are, you’re emboldened by other job offers, and are using salaries as a benchmark for decision-making. Being realistic is fine, but not when you’re speaking in a tactless manner that makes you seem painfully arrogant (or ignorant).
Instead, try: Being mindful of social etiquette. You may want to cut to the chase, but from an employer’s point of view, we want to know what you can bring to the table first.
8. “How many days of sick leave will I get?”
This is the red flag of all red flags. Why do you want to know how many days of medical leave you’ll be given? What are you intending to do with them?
Instead, try: Asking in a more indirect manner, and at the later stage of the recruitment process – if you really have to know. If you’re concerned for your health, you should be asking about medical coverages and in-house wellness programs instead.
Think before you speak, prepare adequately, and treat every interview opportunity with respect. If you can do that, go ahead and send in your application through our career website. All the best! 😉