Don’t Say This in an Interview

Are you preparing for an interview?

You are ready for the interview. You know what to do. You have the skills. You’ve gained the experience. You have a charming personality. You’ve practiced in front of the mirror and in front of friends.

Also read: Interview Mistakes to Avoid

Have you thought about what NOT to do in an interview? Besides show up late and look like you just rolled out of bed? Here are some tips on things to avoid in an interview. I mean, really, really avoid them–they could kill your chances for getting the job. You might be surprised by how many people still manage to fumble the interview despite my warnings and kind suggestions.

But you won’t because you’ve read the following list.

Don’t do these things in an interview:

“What does this company do?”don't ask this in an interview

What? This says to the interviewer that you didn’t even bother to do a simple search before showing up in their office. Every good interviewee knows to do their homework before an interview. If you don’t care enough to find out what they do, you don’t care enough about working there. Go home and try again.

“When are you due?”Don't say this in an interview

“Umm, I’m not pregnant.” Insert foot into mouth now. Don’t ask personal questions in an interview. You are not there to find out about the person, you are there to find about a job. You don’t need to know if they are married, have kids, what their favorite color is, or what they ate for lunch.  If you want to personalize the interview somehow, ask them about their job at the company, what they do, what they like about the company, etc. But again, this should not be the focus of your interview. You’ll have plenty of time to get to know them as a person at happy hour once you are hired.

“If I don’t get this job, I won’t be able to pay rent.”

Even if this is true, don’t admit it. You do not want to get a job based on pity, nor do you want to guilt someone into giving you a job. That is starting off on the wrong foot and may prevent you from ever settling on solid ground there. Get the job on your merits and your qualifications–not your personal circumstances.

“I’m hoping to someday have your job.”

Would you hire someone who was after your job? No. Neither would anyone else. It doesn’t indicate that you have ambitions. It indicates that you were dumb enough to say it out loud. Go home and try again.

“My last job was horrible.”don't say this in an interview

No and No. Yes to talking about the challenges of your current or past positions. No to badmouthing and complaining. Once a complainer, always a complainer. No one wants that on their team.

“What the H*&^!”

No swearing EVER in a job interview. Even if the person interviewing you drops a causal bomb-don’t follow suit. It’s not worth compromising your integrity for bonding over a few expletives.

Same goes for slang and terms like:

  • Dude/Bro
  • Honey/Sweetie
  • Girls/Guys/Ladies

Avoid casual language in an interview unless you are absolutely sure it matches the company’s culture.

“I interviewed for another job I really want.”

Ok, good-bye then. There are better ways to show that you are in demand, but a first interview isn’t the place to do it. If you are offered the job, then start negotiating. But when you first meet a hiring manager find out as much as can about the job. Who knows, it might turn into your first choice after all.

“I may not be the most qualified but…”don't say this in an interview

Even if you feel this way, think about this: The person thought you were qualified enough to interview you and they know what they want. So, in a way, you could be insulting their intelligence right along with your own self deprecation. Be in it to win it! Let them decide if you are qualified–it’s their job.

Also read: Body Language in a Job Interview

Were these tips helpful?

We’d love to hear your ideas on what to do and not do in an interview.

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  1. Rachel Stones on August 21, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    I’ve completed hundreds of initial phone interviews and I’m always surprised at how many people don’t even remember applying to a specific opportunity. I understand candidates may be sending out hundreds of resumes, but it’s not a good idea to sound surprised on the phone. Ask a couple questions instead to familiarize yourself again with the position. I’ve also had so many people apply then once contacted for an interview decide the commute was too long. I would suggest doing some minimum research before applying for a position, it will save your time as well as the recruiters!

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