A job interview is your best opportunity to sell yourself to an employer. You want to blow them away with your qualifications. You want to wow them with all you have to offer.
At times, you may be tempted to kick back coolly and tell the interviewer, “Oh yeah, I can do anything.”
But that’s a mistake.
While this claim seems to convey versatility and ambition, telling an interviewer you can do anything gives the wrong idea and can even hinder their ability to assess your fit for the role.
Let’s break this down.
You’ll look overconfident
Confidence goes a long way in a job interview. Employers value candidates who are confident in their abilities and unafraid of the challenge of an interview. But tip the scale too far, and you’ll seem overconfident — arrogant, boastful—which is considered a dealbreaker by 59% of hiring managers.
Your in-interview behavior is indicative of how you’ll act once hired. And since employers and employees alike have little tolerance for cocky coworkers, they may not pursue you further if you come across this way.
Further, if you inadvertently present yourself as over-skilled, employers may hesitate to consider you. Employers don’t want to hire someone who may get bored on the job. And having skills above the role can make you seem like a bad fit.
You’ll convey a lack of specialization
“Anything” is a broad category, and so saying you can do anything reveals a lack of specialization.
Employers often look for candidates with specific skillsets. By failing to disclose your skills, the employer cannot determine if you have what they are looking for or not.
Specialization comes with many perks. Employees with specialization are more productive. They finish tasks quicker and are then able to aid their coworkers. And because of their expertise, specialized employees require less training and onboard quicker.
This means, by saying you can do anything, you fail to convey the level of specialization employers look for in their employees, and you may not get chosen because of it.
You’ll seem uninterested
Employers value passion in their employees. There are many benefits of working with passionate employees, such as increased productivity and an energized workplace, which makes passionate candidates more attractive to employers.
When you say you can do anything, you show that you haven’t spent a lot of time doing any one thing. Throughout your career, nothing lit your fire. There’s nothing about the role that sparks your interest.
Because of this, you risk getting chosen over people who express a clear, genuine enthusiasm for the job.
The interviewer will struggle to evaluate you
Interviewers need to get certain information from you to evaluate your competence and fit for the role. They likely have a list of specific traits they’re looking for, and throughout your interview, they try to see if you have these traits or not.
When you say you can do anything, you don’t reveal anything about yourself. You don’t show them what skills you have, what areas you’ve dedicated your time to, and what interests you, and so you don’t give them any information to evaluate you with.
After your interview, the employer may step away feeling like they haven’t learned a whole lot about you. They will choose someone who gave them a clearer, more compelling, and more useful overview of their qualifications.
What to say instead
Okay, so maybe saying you can do anything isn’t the smartest idea. But then what should you say instead?
While the ability to do anything conveys wild, unbounded versatility, you want to tether your answers with some specification.
Tell the interviewer what skills you have and tie them to real accomplishments. The more specific you can get about your relevant accomplishments, the more compelling your answers will be.
You also want to express genuine interest in the company. So instead of saying you can do anything, outline your skills and relate them to the job description or to the needs of the company. Try to describe how your qualifications will benefit them.
Researching the company in advance is a great way to learn what they’re looking for in their next hire and convey enthusiasm for the role.
When you’re on the spot and don’t know what to say, claiming you can do anything can seem like an easy default. But to ace your interview, tell the interviewer exactly what you have to offer to give them a sense of who you are and why you’re the best person for the role.
This article was written by Danielle Murphy.
Danielle Murphy is a content writer and copywriter with a passion for helping businesses meet their marketing goals with writing. When she’s not working (or writing for fun), she’s hiking or hobby farming around her home in New Hampshire.