The Interview Answer That Will Leave You as Road Kill

Susan Hall
Slide Show

How Not to Follow Up After a Job Interview

A rogues' gallery of infamously inappropriate follow-ups.

It's no wonder that looking for a job can make you crazy. Who can keep up with all the minefields in resume preparation and interviewing?


I've written about some of the interview questions you might be asked:


Now I've come across the "road kill" of answers, according to Phil Rosenberg, president of the site reCareered. He says these words should never, ever escape your lips:

I haven't done it, but I could learn.

Who knew? Doesn't eagerness to learn sound like a good thing? He writes:

Employers realize you can learn if you've been in the work force for a while, or if you've graduated college. Of course you can learn. It's even a bad answer for an entry-level job candidate.
... unless you're entry-level, employers don't want someone who can learn, they want fast solutions to problems. If you can learn, you might have a future with the company to solve new problems, but to be hired you've got to demonstrate that you've already solved that problem.

And what if you haven't? Talk about a similar problem you've solved, he says. You should go into the interview knowing problems the company faces because you've done your homework and talk about how you can help solve those.


Meanwhile, in a separate post, Rosenberg writes that the age of the generalist is over, that resumes should not be written to appeal to a wide swath of employers. He writes:

In 2011, employers want subject matter experts who have direct experience in solving specific problems.

Instead, he says, customize your resume to address the specific skills the employer seeks in that job posting. We've heard that advice before. By doing so, you don't need a cover letter, he says. (I've written views from the "yes you do" camp as well as those agreeing with him, so make sure you read the job posting carefully and submit one if it's mentioned.)


My colleague has written about the value of IT generalists and business intelligence generalists, though, so that might be the employer's idea of the ideal hire. The trick is to learn as much as possible about the hiring manager's needs so you can craft your resume in that vein.

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