10 Things You Should Never Say at a Job Interview
During an interview, what you say and how you say it can help the interviewer figure out if you are a good candidate and a good fit for their company and culture. Think about what you want to talk about and what you don’t want to talk about as you get ready for an interview.
This article talks about things you shouldn’t say or ask during a job interview and gives tips and examples of what you should say instead.
Why what you say in an interview is important
Everything you say at a job interview could help the interviewer understand why you want the job and how your skills and experience make you the best person for the job. Having a positive and professional attitude during the interview can give the hiring manager confidence in your ability to fit into the company’s culture and add value to the company.
Things you should never say in a job interview
Here are 10 things you shouldn’t say in an interview, along with suggestions for what you should say instead:
1. Bad things about a previous job or boss
“Why are you looking for a new job?” you might be asked during an interview. or “What was bad about your last job?” If you answer in a way that doesn’t say anything bad about your previous employer or job, it shows that you can stay professional and positive no matter what.
Positive answers can also give the interviewer confidence that you’ll fit in well with their company’s culture and won’t say anything bad about them in the future. When asked about your previous job, try to talk about things the job you’re applying for can do that your old job couldn’t.
Example: “I’ve enjoyed my time at my current job, but I really want to use the skills and experience I’ve gained over the last five years to move into a supervisory role where I can help other people grow in their success. My current employer has no open positions for supervisors, and they don’t think any will open up soon.”
2. “I’m not sure.”
The interviewer might ask you a question for which you haven’t prepared or don’t know the answer. This could be a great chance to show how well you can solve problems and think critically. You can tell the interviewer you need a moment to think about your answer or ask for the extra information you need to give a good answer.
Example: “That’s an excellent question. I’d like to think about it for a minute, if that’s okay.”
3. Talk about pay, benefits, and time off
During an interview, you should show the interviewer or employer why you are the best person for the job and convince them to hire you. If the interviewer doesn’t bring up benefits, vacation time, or pay, you shouldn’t ask about them. Try to wait until they offer you the job before you start negotiating.
You don’t have to ask about benefits, time off, and pay right away. You can talk about them at the end of the interview. This is a nice way to let the interviewer know that you still have questions about the job’s benefits, but it doesn’t force them to answer them right away.
“When we talk again, I’m looking forward to hearing more about the pay and benefits.”
4.I wrote it down on my resume.
Even if the answer to the interviewer’s question is on your resume, you should always answer in your own words and give more information. If the answer to a question is on your resume, the interviewer probably just wants to know more about you. Try to answer these questions by giving specific examples that show your experience or skills, or by explaining how your qualifications relate to the job.
Example: “I got a Bachelor of Arts in legal studies from the University of Tampa. I had to do a lot of legal research and write briefs in order to do well in all of my major classes. I was happy that I did well in every class. I did a lot of writing and research in these classes, which helped me prepare for a career in content marketing. I learned how to do good research to find reliable sources and how to write good pieces. My major also taught me the skills I needed to work in a niche industry with strict marketing rules.”
5. Words that aren’t business-like
It is very important to act like a professional during the interview. One of the best ways to do this is to use business language. This doesn’t mean you have to use jargon from your industry. Instead, it means you should try to stay away from slang, swear words, and filler words (“like” or “um”).
You are less likely to use unprofessional language in an interview if you slow down, think about your answer, and focus on speaking clearly. You can also avoid filler words by practicing pausing or taking a deep breath when you would normally say a word.
6. “I don’t have any questions.”
Most people will ask if you have any questions near the end of the interview. When preparing for an interview, it’s important to think of questions you can ask the employer that show you’re interested in the company or the job.
Example: “According to the company’s mission statement, you want to be the best at selling cars. I want to know how you see yourself as a leader and what you’re going to do to get there.”
7. Asking what the company does
You should ask the interviewer questions, but you shouldn’t ask what the company does. Most of the time, the answer to this question is easy to find if you do some research on the company and job you are applying for. Before your interview, try to understand the company’s mission and vision, as well as what it does to reach those goals. If you do this, you will be able to ask the company more specific questions.
Example: “I learned a lot about your company, and I was especially interested in how employees can use some of their work time to volunteer and give back to the community. I also like using my skills and experience to help people in need. I wanted to know what kinds of volunteer groups and projects the company has helped in the past.”
8. Answers that are too planned or have been used too many times
Finding answers to the questions you think the interviewer will ask is one of the best ways to get ready for an interview. But if you give an interview question a prepared answer, you should make sure it sounds natural. A lot of people use cliches when they answer common interview questions. Try to give honest answers at your interview that will make you stand out as a candidate. Instead of saying, “I’m a perfectionist, so that’s my biggest weakness,” which interviewers often hear, try to think of something you learned from your last job.
Example: “At my last job, it was hard for me not to take on too many tasks, which made me feel too busy. Even though I don’t like to say no to projects or tasks, I was able to learn that it’s okay to ask for help and give tasks to other people so that our whole team could reach our goals together and on time.”
9. Says you don’t have enough experience to do the job.
If you just graduated or are changing careers, don’t talk about your weaknesses or lack of experience. Instead, talk about your strengths and how the experience and skills you do have will add value to the company. When answering questions about your relevant experience, make sure to mention skills that will help you in the role, like strong communication, organization, problem-solving, and time management skills.
Example: “Even though most of my work experience is in customer service, my manager at my last job asked me to be a new hire coach. In this job, I was able to sit with new customer service workers and listen to recordings of their calls. In that role, I was able to tell them how they could do their jobs better or give them ideas on how to do so. I can’t wait to be an inspiring leader at my new job as a customer service supervisor by using what I’ve learned here.”
10. Information about yourself that doesn’t matter
Answering interview questions with specific examples and stories can help you show how qualified you are and make you stand out. But it’s important to make sure the interviewer remembers you for the right reasons. You shouldn’t talk about your family or hobbies unless they are directly related to the job. Even then, you should try to avoid talking about them.
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