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Why you should never say, “I can do this job” in an interview

Don’t mention that you can do the job in an interview!

The most common phrase in an interview

that candidates share with their interviewer is, “I can do this job”. Believe it or not, this is a phrase you want to avoid in your interviews. This is one of the last phrases you want to share with your interviewer and we will provide a number of reasons why this is the case.

The hiring manager has a team of folks already doing the job and we don’t know the skill level or experience of their team. It isn’t our opinion that counts, it is the hiring managers opinion that really matters. So, when we say “I can do this job”, we take a big chance that we are putting the hiring manager into a thought process that is not supportive.

We don’t want the hiring manager thinking, “I have the best team in the company with an average tenure of 15 years, my team can do this job”

But “I can do this job!”

There will be situations where you may have done a job and are interviewing for a similar job and have a high level of confidence you can be successful at the job. Even in this case, we don’t want to say, “I can do this job”.

Remember, most hiring managers are looking for negatives as much as they are looking for positives in your candidacy. We don’t want to encourage a situation where the conclusion is “negative”.

2 reasons the hiring manager is looking for a negative 

  • The hiring manager is putting their name and credibility on your future performance. Managers want a sure bet. They don’t want a high percentage bet; managers want a sure bet. With this in mind, most managers are not in the mindset of trust, but of doubt. We don’t want to encourage a lack of trust mentality. As a candidate, you can move the hiring manager from a mentality of the doubt to a mentality of confidence with just a few changes in how we present ourselves.
  • We don’t want to put ourselves into a no-win situation where we are compared to the employee(s) that are the star performers. All teams have superstars and this hiring manager is no different. They may have one superstar or 10. Either way, you don’t want to be compared to this top-ranking employee. Especially when we haven’t done this particular job.

Project confidence, not arrogance

If there is one thing that will result in a candidate being declined, it is a lack of confidence. This doesn’t mean you have to be a showboat. Just check the boxes. Look the interviewer in the eye, speak up, and smile. This may not be the illusion of confidence but it will check the boxes. Of course, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. There is also a way to prove you can do the position of interest without sounding like a blowhard.

Instead of saying “I can do this job”, come to the interview prepared to share how you have done similar work and been successful with similar tasks using quantitative answers. As we mentioned, it is very easy to compare you to the hiring managers experienced team and become judgmental. A manager will have a hard time questioning your success rate at a prior company when they weren’t working in your department and not seeing you in action.

What to say

Let’s say you are interested in a bank teller position but lack actual bank teller experience. We could make statements like the following:

  • Yeah, I know I can do this job.
  • I am confident I will be successful in this position.

OR, we could make statements like the following:

  1. I was very successful when I ran the cash register at the restaurant I worked for. I closed out the cash register every shift and always had a zero balance at the end of the day.  This was a high volume establishment and involved a lot of customer interaction.
  2. I have a lot of experience working with customers in face to face interactions. At my prior role, I met with candidates on a regular basis and was able to upsell what they purchased from us on their prior visit. On average, each associate had 40 interactions a day.
  3. At my last position, I had to learn a number of new products. The restaurant I worked with had 15 specialty entrees and the choice of 5 side dishes. I not only had to memorize all of the specialty entrees but which ones had specific ingredients and how each could be cooked. We wanted to make sure that our customers didn’t have allergic reactions and were able to pair their side dishes with their entrees. I believe I can learn the bank products because I was able to learn the 75 combinations in my last position.

Why it works

In the first example, we know that a bank teller will work with money and customers. In our answer, we have proven that we have both customer service experience and can be responsible for cash. The name of the establishment doesn’t matter, and the amount of money involved isn’t an issue. We are emphasizing customer service and accurate financial transactions.

In the second example, we reinforce that we have experience with face to face interactions and specifically experience with unhappy customers and up-sell opportunities. Both are qualities that are required with the position of a bank teller and quantitatively reinforce our success.

The third example takes two very different positions of a bank teller and waiter and figures out not only how to relate the two training programs but reinforces that success as a waiter is a good indicator future success as a bank teller. 

Ultimately, the methodology that most recruiters use to interview candidates is “Behavioral Interviewing“.  The thought process is prior success is the best indicator of future success.

You are excited and were successful

Next time you are in a job interview, don’t tell the hiring manager “I can do this job”. Tell them you are excited about the position and show how you were successful in prior positions and relate that success to the position of interest.

See you at the after party,

HRNasty

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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