10 Things You Should not Say in an Interview

two women sitting beside table and talking

There are some things that you should not say during a job interview; regardless of how much you would like to share your opinion with the interviewer. Truth is interviewers can be their own worst enemies. They disqualify themselves by revealing information that’s better left unsaid in interviews because they feel defensive or insecure.

  1. “Ugh, my last company…”

No matter how bad a job was, you never, ever want to badmouth a former employer in an interview. Keep your tone somewhere between neutral and positive, focusing on what you’ve learned from each experience and what you’re hoping to do in the future. This especially applies when you’re talking about why you’re leaving.

  1. “I didn’t get along with my boss.”

Similarly, you don’t want to speak negatively about anyone you’ve worked with in the past. Even if a previous manager could put the characters in Horrible Bosses to shame, your interviewer doesn’t know that—and could wonder whether you’re the difficult one to work with.

  1. How much does this job pay?

Don’t be the first to bring up salary, if you can help it. Mentioning pay can send the message that all you are after is money, an especially grave sin at the first meeting.

  1. “I know I don’t have much experience, but…”

This mistake is easy to make, especially if you’re a recent grad or career changer. Problem is, when you apologize for experience you don’t have, you’re essentially saying that you’re not a great hire, that you’re not quite the right fit for the role, or even that you would be starting from square one. And that’s just not the case! Instead of drawing attention to your weaknesses, stay positive, focus on your strengths, and immediately launch into your transferable skills and infectious enthusiasm for the position.

  1. “Yes! I have a great answer for that!”

Practiced your answers to some interview questions? Great. But don’t memorize them word for word. When you’re hyper-prepared and hanging on the edge of your seat waiting for certain questions for which you’ve prepared to be asked, you will likely have a very hard time engaging in genuine conversation with the interviewer. And interviewers don’t tend to hire detached people who can’t seem to have a genuine conversation. Certainly, walk in prepared, but force yourself to not memorize or over-rehearse the practice questions.

  1. “Perfectionism is my greatest weakness.”

Here’s the thing: Chances are, telling a hiring manager that perfectionism is your greatest weakness won’t surprise him or her—and it might come off as sounding like an overly rehearsed cliché. It also doesn’t offer much of a true insight into your work style or personality (especially if half the other candidates are giving the same response).

  1. What do you do around here?

They hear: I didn’t do any research! The most important thing you can do as a candidate is research the company you’re interviewing with. Search online for employees who could potentially be interviewing you, and get an understanding of their background. If you’re not prepared for the interview, what else might you be unprepared for in the future?

  1. “Um, I don’t know.”

Even if you practice, and practice, and practice, you could still get a question that stumps you. But saying “I don’t know” is rarely the right approach. Two strategies that work well are repeating the question thoughtfully before answering or saying (slowly), “Now, that is a great question. I think I would have to say…” Still stumped? Ask for what you need—whether that’s a pen and paper, a glass of water, or a quick minute to think.

  1. “How much vacation time do I get?”

When you bust out with an immediate litany of WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) questions, you look both arrogant and, frankly, unappealing. Guess what interviewers want to know when they meet with you? First and foremost, they want to know what you can do for them. What can you do to make that company money, improve businesses processes, grow the organization and, importantly, make their lives easier? Making you happy will be important if they want you, but you’re not even going to get to that stage if you make your list of demands clear too early.

  1. “No—I don’t have any questions.”

There’s no way you know everything about the job, culture, and company at the end of an interview. So by not asking questions, you’re signalling that you don’t care to learn more. Arrive with a list of probing questions in tow that prove you’re prepared, interested, and can continue an engaging conversation with your interviewer.