10 Things NOT to Say in a Job Interview

Job Interview Gone BadYou’re are nailing this interview. The recruiter is engaging, smiling… even giving that knowing nod that says “very good!”

Then, in an instant, something changes. You can feel it. And, yes, it is usually because of something you said.

If you’re wondering what you can do to prevent your next interview from going downhill like this, here are ten things you must NOT say:

1. “I’m Sorry, but I’m Really Nervous!”

The employer already knows candidates are nervous for their job interviews. If you fumble during your interview, don’t use nervousness as an excuse. Pick up from where you left off and speak with confidence.

2. “How Much Do I Get Paid? What About Vacation Time?”

Never ask about salary during the interview. This is a topic the interviewer will bring up at their discretion. Once the interviewer explains compensation and benefits, you may ask questions regarding the topic.

3. “Did You Know I Ran Cross Country in High School?”

It’s really cool that you have hobbies and talents outside of your career, but make sure during the interview you only talk about experience and skills relevant to the position. Being an all-star runner is a great accomplishment; however, it wouldn’t relate to the accounting job you applied for. On the other hand, if the interviewer mentions they’re a runner or the position is with an athletic shoe company or something similar, it would be acceptable to share your experience to build a connection

4. “My Boss at ABC Company was Awful.”

Trash-talking your boss during an interview shows a lack of professionalism. Never bring up a past experience during your interview that would cause you to speak poorly about the person or job.

5. “Man, I Really Need this Job to Pay Off My Credit Card Debt.”

The employer realizes you are applying for the job because you are searching for employment. They don’t need to know exactly why you need the job or any personal details. It isn’t necessary to state how desperate you are for the position and you don’t need to say anything that would cause a red flag for the employer.

6. “I Just Need this Job so I Can Fulfill my Dream of Being a CEO.”

While you are concerned about advancing your career, it’s important not to tell the interviewer this position serves only as a stepping stone to better employment. Employers want to know how you can help their company – not how their company will benefit you.

7. “I Need a Flexible Schedule to Accommodate My in-home Business.”

First off, many employers aren’t supportive outside commitments that will distract from your work ethic. Employers expect you to be fully committed to their position.

8. “What Does Your Company Do Again?”

Always research the company before the interview. Make sure you know what the company values and if there are any awards they’ve received. The last thing you want to do is make yourself look unprepared for the interview.

9. “I’m Sorry, I Don’t Remember What I Did During that Internship.”

As the candidate, you also need to make sure you can explain the experience displayed on your resume. Interviewers will ask details about your internships and previous jobs. Be prepared to share accomplishments from each experience and how the skills you gained relate to the position.

10. “Wait, What Position Did I Apply For?

Before you even apply for the job, make sure you understand what the description entails. During the interview, you will be expected to explain how your background relates to the position. If there were some details you were unclear about when you applied, bring a list of questions to the interview.

By avoiding these mistakes, you will already be ahead in the interview process. It’s easier than you think to make a mistake, but as long as you are confident and educate yourself about the position, you will increase your likelihood of landing the job.





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Glassdoor!




HeatherAbout the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets. Follow Heather on Twitter!



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  • Great post! So many job seekers make basic mistakes in the interview process and then lose out on a great opportunity. Never go into a job interview unprepared and never go into an interview focused on what the company can do for you. Instead do your homework and make sure you stress the ways in which your unique skills and experiences can add value to the organization.

    • YouTern

      “never go into an interview focused on what the company can do for you.”

      Well said.

      In the job interview, you are competing against all the other candidates. Employers will hire the qualified candidate who shows they can improve the company. They will not hire the candidates that just want a paycheck, or are looking for the employer to help them.

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  • Panaphobe

    See 9 of those are no-brainers. But your compensation should not be one of them #2. It’s unjust for an employer to list an A4 sheet of competencies but describe remuneration as “competitive” or “market rate”. Has the employer really no clue as to what the skills are worth they are trying to gain? This happens when the company’s money people browbeat the hirers and it’s an indication that your potential employer is just another skin trader.

  • Audrey

    As someone who is currently looking for a job, I find it hard to believe that you shouldn’t ask what a position pays. Isn’t it a waste of time to apply, interview and then wait until you are hired, only to find out if the position pays less than what you need?

    • Charlie

      That’s not the point. What the writer is saying is don’t be the one who brings it up during an interview. It gives the impression you care about money and not the job. The salary will of course be discussed before a decision from either party is made but let the interviewer be the one to start the discussion.

    • YouTern

      Totally agree with Charlie. Employers hire people who can solve their problem that they’re hiring for. They want to hire people who want THAT job because it’s interesting, challenging etc. NOT because they want A job (i.e. “I just need a paycheck”). When the job seeker asks about the salary in the initial interview, the impression they very much give is that they want a paycheck… not this particular job.

      That is not a good impression and a big turn-off to employers.

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  • Always think what you can bring to the company, in terms of positiveness