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Have a job interview? These are 7 key things not to say during a job interview. It is normal to get nervous before and during a job interview. In fact, everyone gets nervous during a job interview. However, be sure not to say any of these 7 key things not to say in a job interview.

Job Interview - 7 key things not to say

By Catherine Adenle

Job interview? These are the 7 key things not to say. Want to ace your job interview? Be sure not to say these 7 key things. It is fair to say that you might be asked challenging questions at your job interview. You may even be asked bizarre questions too, whatever you do, never say any of the 7 keys things not to say as listed on the Infographic below. Challenging questions are designed to see how good you are at thinking on your feet so you cannot truly prepare for them. Just relax and say something sensible.

As a job seeker, if you have a job interview, be aware of the things employers don’t expect to hear from you. The truth is, regardless of how much time you spend to plan and prepare for a job interview, you are bound to feel nervous because there are sure to be some unexpected questions and uncomfortable pauses that may be hard to fill for you.

Interviews need not be a mystery or a horror story. In fact, it can be enjoyable, informative, and even fun. In addition, every interview that you complete will make you more practised in the art of interviewing. By continuing to interview for jobs, you will learn the range of a variety of questions and scenarios that may confront you. Then you will be better prepared to knock their socks off and win the job of your dreams!

However, the major risk at an interview lies in saying something inappropriate during a pause period in the discussion. Most job seekers have said something during a job interview that they’ve regretted as soon as they finish speaking. By the time they clamp their lips shut, they know they are not going to get a second call, not to mention securing the job itself.

Most people know the basics of a good job interview, they dress professionally, sit up straight, give the interviewer a firm handshake, appear confident, friendly, highlight their skills and ask a lot of questions about the position. But have they thought of what not to say?

You can say a hundred right things but one mistake, one wrong move, and you have blown the interview.

Job interview? Here are the 7 key things not to say:

1. “I don’t know” or “I don’t have any weaknesses” or “I’m known to be a perfectionist” – During a job interview, these are some of the key things that you must not say. For instance, when asked to name one of your weaknesses or flaws, it is a no-no to say you have none or that you are a perfectionist. Despite being an extremely common response, perfectionism is not a flaw and everyone will know you are lying. Being a perfectionist is more of a positive attribute than a negative one and mentioning it should not be used as a substitute because you’re afraid to divulge your real flaw.

Mention a negative, but follow-up with what you have been doing to address the weakness and mention a recent success due to this new way of dealing with the weakness. Such weakness can also be viewed as a positive because you are self-aware and you have taken the step(s) to manage the weakness.

2. “My boss was a flaming jerk!” or “My colleagues were difficult to get along with!” During a job interview, never ever criticize a former boss or employer. No matter how poorly you were treated, it is foolish to point the finger at someone from your previous job, frankly, it is simply unnecessary. For one thing, the person interviewing you may feel you are disloyal. For another, you may be perceived as someone who whinges, who is unable to get along with others or hold down a job. Trust me, nothing good can come from talking down another organization, so keep your mouth zipped, keep it moving and keep it positive.

Job Interview_7 Key Things Not to Say

3. “You have no idea, you are my last hope. If I don’t get this, you have no idea what I am going to do to myself” or “You are the only one hiring now and if I don’t get this, it is the end for me.” Chill out, it is only a job interview! Never beg or talk about how much you need the job – it is pathetic!

If you pour out a sob story to try to win the interviewer’s sympathy, you are most likely signing your ‘never’ warrant with the company. People simply do not want to hire someone they feel is a walking emotional wreck or someone they feel sorry for. They would much rather find an employee they perceive confident, able and admire or someone they can depend on to get the job done. Making yourself out to be a victim may get your scooted out the door in a hurry.

4.“ If I get the job, then I can buy a car to get me around and to get me to work on time every day” or  “I hope I wouldn’t have to wait in line to jump on the bus anymore once I get the job. I can spend my first payment on a car,” or “Are you kidding? I need to pay off my loan.” This is your chance to reiterate your skills and relate them to the position you are applying for.  Never impose conditions on your taking a position. Avoid making statements about possible problems that might be solved once they start paying you. Don’t mention anything that might interfere with your getting to work on time or staying there. For example, don’t bring up the fact that your daughter has frequent doctor’s appointments for a condition unless you are certain you will have to miss work often because of it. Nor should you raise potential problems that might never develop, since the interviewer will perceive these as red flags.

11 Steps to Ace Any Job Interview

5. “I took six months off last year due to stress, hopefully, that is not going to happen anymore,” or “I am hopeless when it comes to holding down a job that I don’t like because I lose interest easily!” If there are gaps or job-hopping issues shown on your CV, never use your explanation to emphasize your weaknesses. Don’t bring up six months of poor work attendance at a previous job following stress that required therapy. After all, it was a one-time event and hopefully will not recur. There is no sense in planting doubts in a prospective employer’s mind unless you must.

Better Answer: When I was younger, I decided to sample a wide variety of careers. That way, when I was ready to choose a career path I would be absolutely certain that I had found the right one for the long-term future. Now I’ve settled on this industry, and that’s why I’m here today.

6. “Don’t bulls**t me,” or “I laughed my ass off!” Never use careless language. Avoid jokes, slang, racial slurs, and other kinds of inappropriate diction. Even if you feel comfortable with your interviewer, you want to show your best professional side while being considered for employment, and even afterwards if hired. Use everyday speech and a conversational tone without including slang. Also, make a point of excluding sexist language or clichés. Put a guard on your tongue for a few hours that day to avoid botching this unique opportunity.

7. “Exactly how much is this job paying, anyway?,” or “When am I going to be promoted!” Never mention salary or promotion in an interview unless you are asked about them first. Avoid asking for when you are going to be promoted, remember that the job is not yet yours yet, do not put the cart before the horse.

You have to wait for the interviewer to ask you questions about salary first. Even if you feel comfortable with your interviewer, you want to show that the job and working at the company are more important. Some people ask this question before the interviewer has a chance to even ask their first question and this is a big mistake. It makes it seem as if all you are after is money. As a rule, wages and salaries are not discussed during the first interview. You may have three interviews altogether with one company. If money is discussed, it is up to the interviewer from the company to open up that subject. If they ask you how much money you want, have a range of salaries to give them and not a specific amount. First, research how much the job you want really pays in your town or state and then come up with a range of a yearly salary to request.

See How to Research Salaries when Job Hunting

Job Interview: 7 Key Things Not to Say_Infographic


Job interview? 7 key things not to say

See How to Answer Common Job Interview Questions

Note: It is important to remember that the best preventative medicine for this type of blunders is to think, at least for a few seconds, before answering questions. There are no marks for answering quickly and saying the wrong things.
Job Interview likely questions (Infographic)
Now that you have explored the 7 key things not to say during a job interview, are there other key things to add?
Let us hear from you. Leave your comments below.

Catherine Adenle
Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping all career-minded people worldwide to explore their career, manage change and understand how new technologies are changing and enhancing the future of work.
Catherine Adenle
Catherine Adenle

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12 thoughts on “Job Interview – 7 Key Things Not to Say

  1. A bit too late for the interview I had two days ago. Gosh, I did ask about the salary for the job. Well, now that I know, I will wait until I am asked in future. Thanks.

  2. This is the first time I comment on your site, but I’ve been keeping up with your work for about a few weeks. I admire the passion with which you write the articles and hope someday I can do the same. Love

  3. I cannot imagine who would think these things are acceptable to say in an interview. As for salary – people work to make money. Yes, you want a job that’s rewarding and a culture fit, but if you have no idea of the ballpark, there’s no reason not to ask about it in the first interview. Everyone has a bottomline for what they’d take salary-wise, and it saves you and the interviewer time to find out early if this pay is above that range. Asking about the salary doesn’t make you look shallow or “give away” that you’re looking to make money from the job. That’s common sense.

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