T. M. I.
Can you say too much information?
“The difference between a smart man and a wise man is that a smart man knows what to say, a wise man knows whether or not to say it”. Frank Garafole
Let’s face it – interviews are STRESSFUL. Maybe you are one of those people that tend to talk too much under stress or have a tendency to ramble because you fear uncomfortable silence. OR you are by nature extremely outgoing and your enthusiasm and energy cause you to talk – A LOT- when really you would be better off harnessing your thoughts.
Obviously, the interviewer is interested in you or they would have never scheduled a face to face meeting, but always be mindful that it is his or her job to figure you out – so be careful and be aware of “disclosure boundaries.” Over sharing or T.M.I. can cost you the job. If a candidate does not make a good impression, a conclusion may be drawn that he/she will possibly shock, offend, puzzle or amuse (not in a good way) those with whom the company does business as well as coworkers. Companies want employees who generate goodwill and demonstrate good sense.
So much of this is just about using plain old common sense and having good taste so why is it even necessary to discuss? It’s because over sharing on an interview happens way too often and you rarely ever know why you were not the candidate that got the offer.
It seems that the evolution of our society had turned many of us in to open books. Have you checked Facebook lately? You have probably found T.M.I. to be a common theme. Therefore, it is a good idea to review some areas of discussion to watch out for in the interview.
Remember an interview is a very different type of social interaction than any other and interviews are STRESSFUL.
It is perfectly appropriate to discuss your professional goals – not personal ones. State what you want in a career and mention what attracted you to the position with this company. Do not mention a personal goal such as completing the rocket chic’s triathlon, losing weight, meeting Lady GaGa, an ad infinitum listing of peculiar desires which might cause an employer to wonder about you. If it is a personal goal remember to keep it personal. When asked questions, always tack on the very end of the question AT WORK.
Never, ever, ever mention politics, religion, lifestyle choices or any health issues. There are SO many things a potential employer is not allowed to ask you in an interview. They are not legally allowed to ask these questions for good reasons so don’t volunteer the information! For example, health plans are a major company expense, and while an employer may not openly question you about your health or refuse to employ you because of health issues – you should probably not disclose how much you like your lactation coach or that you finally won your battle with _______. (And yes, we absolutely have had a candidate discuss lactation on a first interview).
When the interview begins to get comfortable and you are relaxed, be aware and save the drama for your momma. The interviewer is not your new best friend and does not need or want to know about problems at home with your spouse or your children or your personal problems such as trips to rehab (even though you were successful in your rehabilitation).
The biggest blunder of all would be to share problems with former bosses and coworkers. Even if you are certain you were the aggrieved party and were morally correct, leave it alone. The interviewer knows there are always two sides to a story. He/she may nod in sympathy while thinking that you are a crybaby or possibly a trouble maker that can’t get along with those around you.
When it comes to disclosure boundaries, avoid revealing information that is not directly related to your ability to do the job. And, don’t forget that information you put on social media is fair game for a potential employer. When using websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, think before you post. You should use the same disclosure guidelines as you would in an interview since potential employers have joined the ranks of college admissions officers in often using these sites to “check out” individuals. The relaxed, friendly nature of postings on social media can cause many a job seeker to reveal information that they would think twice about in a face to face interview. Posted information is tailored for a friend to read but is “out there” and available for others such as HR individuals at the company for which you may one day want to work.
“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” Maurice Switzer