Job Interview Tips

10 Things You Should Not Say in an Interview

Written by Peter Jones

Job searching can be incredibly stressful. You’ve been anxiously sending out applications and now you have an interview, which is great! But you’ll want to make sure you don’t fall victim to any of the major faux pas of interviewing.

Show you’re the right person for the job without waving any of the worst red flags. When in doubt, try to avoid the following 10 things.

1. @#!^&!!

Salty language just reads like amateur hour. Of course, everybody swears, but these words are best kept out of professional situations—particularly interviews. Likewise, you’ll want to keep any negative or bigoted speech off the table as well.

2. “My current boss is the worst.”

Your last boss was empirically awful, and you hated them. No matter how much righteousness is on your side, it’s best to refrain from boss-bashing to your potential new boss. It comes across as griping, and your interviewer will assume you just have a bad attitude—or that you were the one who was difficult to work with, not your former boss. If asked about a contentious boss situation, try and put a positive spin on the relationship by focusing on what you learned and how you grew.

3. “I am the best, because I know everything.”

There are lots of ways to enumerate your many accomplishments without coming across as arrogant and using too many “I” statements outlining your greatness. If extreme confidence is just part of who you are, find a way to check it for the purposes of the interview.

4. “I’ll do whatever, in any position. It doesn’t matter.”

You may think you’re being open minded and helpful by saying you’ll “do whatever!” but really you’re just showing that you lack a specific passion for the work of that company or industry, and a lack of awareness as to what sort of role you could best play. Target your search to jobs you think you’d be uniquely qualified to perform, then sell that in the interview, specifically.

5. “I need this job or I won’t be able to pay my rent!”

“If I don’t get this job…” is not a good way to start a sentence in an interview situation. There is no way to guilt an interviewer into giving you a job. Don’t even try. Get the job on your own merits and you’ll be a whole lot happier in the long run.

6. “So what is the exact title and who are you?”

Don’t go into an interview situation without knowing exactly who you’re speaking with and exactly what the position is you’re being considered for. Ban the phrase “what job is this again?” from your vocabulary.

7. “So as a baby, I was very hard working … and then in first grade … and then in middle school… “

You’ll want to be as articulate as possible. Don’t give one word answers, but don’t get lost in run-on sentences or soliloquies either. Try to practice a few responses to questions you might reasonably expect to be asked. Keep each one under a minute, with just enough detail to help you stand out from the crowd.

8. “Well, I’d say my biggest flaw is my obsession with being perfect.”

No, perfectionism is not your greatest weakness. A hiring manager will see through this—the oldest play in the book—as a lazy cliché. Come up with something more honest that can lead you to a better discussion of how to learn and grow constructively.

9. “How many vacation days do I get?”

It’s perfectly reasonable to inquire as to the details of your compensation package. But focusing on these things too much, especially in a first interview, is a huge no-no—you’ll risk sounding like you won’t actually be interested in doing any work.

10. “Sorry.”

“Sorry I’m late” is something you should never say. First of all, you should never be late in the first place. Second of all, try to avoid having anything to apologize for. Be prompt or early, well-presented, put together, and prepared and you can do no wrong.

About the author

Peter Jones