What NOT To Say in an Interview

What NOT To Say in an Interview

what not to say in an interview picture man with hire me signThere is no question that what you say in a job interview is super important.  But don’t let that overshadow what NOT say in an interview.  Despite your intentions, the wrong words can spell disaster for your chances.  Be careful and be sure to NOT say these 10 things:

1. How much does this job pay? (or anything about pay)

This question, or anything about pay or benefits is a deal-breaker.  Employers want to hear that you are about ‘making a difference’ and ‘helping their company to succeed,’ not just a paycheck, even if that really IS why you want the job.  Let them bring up salary and benefits and if they ask you what you expect to be paid, be vague. Say in effect ‘enough to be able to take care of my family, but my real concern is doing what I love and helping this company to succeed.’  If they still press for an actual number, give them something a little above what you would accept.  The truth is that they will probably pay you what they’re going to pay you.  You will most certainly know what that number is before you are official..

2. Anything negative about previous employers

Talking trash about a former employer, boss or even colleague will only hurt you.  The interviewer can only conclude that you are difficult to work with, have a bad attitude and/or will be talking trash about them someday in a future interview if they hire you.  Even if you were fired or you really did have a bad experience and it was entirely someone else’s fault, put a positive spin on it, like ‘things just didn’t work out; we had a different philosophy on how to take care of customers,’ and then follow-up on what you learned from the experience (see, now they see you as teachable too!)

3. I’ll have YOUR job someday!

The sad fact is that you’re gonna get the ‘where do you see yourself in 5 (or 10) years.  The answer ALWAYS should include a postion with the company you are interviewing for, but should NOT include taking the position of the interviewer.  You want to ‘move up,’ but that doesn’t have to mean replacing who will be your manager.  That makes you look like future competition and why would someone hire you if they know your goal is to replace them?

4. My job sucks!

If you are currently employed, you’ll likely be asked why you are considering a new gig.  The answer should never include anything negative about your current employer (see above).  What you SHOULD is something positive about how you feel like you can be ‘more successful’ or ‘make a greater impact’ on clients if you are hired.

5. WOW, you are crazy hot for an interviewer!

So this is definitely something NOT to say in an interview.  Hopefully no one is dumb enough to say this outright, but beware of any compliments that could be construed as flirty.  Of course a woman can usually compliment a woman without any negative consequences, but if ayou are a man complimenting a woman, it will probably hurt.  A man complimenting a man is just creepy-weird, so don’t do that either.  Just be professional.

6. I’m perfect

When they ask about your weaknesses, and they will, don’t go with the ‘I can’t think of any’ BS.  The truth is you probably have tons of them, but lets focus on one.  You should already know how you respond to this question, but whatever you go with, turn it into a positive learning experience and DON’T make it something central to the job.  For instance, don’t tell them about how lousy your geometry skills are if you are applying to a carpenter position.  Instead, you might say that in the past you have struggled with being inefficient because you are so concerned about being exact, that when measurements are close enough, but not perfect, you sometimes spend extra time trying to get them exact.  HOWEVER, that is something you have worked on for the past few months and have improved a great deal and ensure that things are ‘close enough,’ but leave it at that.  So basically your ‘weakness’ is actually a strenght (attention to detail) and you don’t even have it anymore!

7. Why is your company circling the drain?

If you have applied to a company that is not doing so well financially (and you should know this from having researched a bit), be more positive and ask what ‘challenges’ they face and how you might be able to help them meet those challenges.  Then, hopefully they tell you why their company is circling the drain, but you also look good because you are already looking to solve problems and you aren’t even hired yet!

8. Can I work from home?

Some people want to work from home because they are slackers and you don’t want a potential employer to think you are “that guy.”  Assume you can’t work from home unless told otherwise.  If you can’t, it may just be a dissapointment for you and it certainly won’t make you look good.

9. I’m the best and you’ll regret it if you don’t hire me!

First of all, you can’t really know you are the most qualified and/or best choice.  In fact, there’s a reasonable chance you aren’t.  Confidence is a great thing to display in an interview, but there is a fine line between confidence and self-absorption.  Your best chance of landing the job is to give off an air of confidence mixed with humility and excitement.

10. No questions here…

You will be asked if you have any questions for them.  The best advice is to have a list of questions, if for no other purpose than to show that you are interested in the company.  More than likely they will answer some of these in the interview.  So write them down and ask questions throughout your visit, but at the end, ask any that have not been answered already.  If they have all been answered already, come up with something!  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Can you describe a typical week in this position?
  • What is the company’s management style?
  • How much travel will there be?
  • How soon will you be making a decision?
  • When will the position begin?
  • Do you have any concerns about my background and qualifications?
  • What are the company’s plans for growth and developement?


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