What Not To Say in the Job Interview

You want to impress the hiring manager and land an offer. Here’s what not to say in the job interview.

Your goal in a job interview is to wow the hiring manager with your brilliance and demonstrate that you’re the best person for the job. You want them to realize that it’s a no-brainer, you’re head and shoulders above the other candidates, and they’d be insane to hire anyone but you.

In order to accomplish that, there are a few things you should avoid saying. Here are 10 of them.

“What does this company do?”

Do your research before you get there. Don’t show up not knowing your stuff about the company and, where possible, about the interviewer.

“My old boss was a jerk.”

Never talk trash about anyone, particularly not your old boss, even if it’s true. This makes you look bad and will never impress anyone.

“How much does this job pay?”

As counterintuitive as it is not to be able to ask how much a job pays, don’t do it. It turns off the interviewer. They expect you to pretend you’re fabulously, independently wealthy and are only looking for a job because you care about bringing value to their company, not because you need to eat.  

“I need a job.”

Of course, you do but see above. Say you “want” the job and talk about how badly you want to work for that particular company because you love their products and mission and values. But don’t say you “need” the job. That sounds too desperate and nobody wants to hire someone desperate.

“My greatest weakness is that I am a perfectionist and I work too hard.”

I have met people who used this one and got jobs, so maybe you can get away with it. But, most seasoned hiring managers will see right through this baloney answer to a common interview question. Say something else instead.  

“I’m a detail-oriented, results-driven team player.”

These terms are overused and don’t really mean anything. Even if you are all of these things, it will sound like you’re just saying what you think they want to hear. Find other ways to say these things and demonstrate them through past accomplishments.

“Nope. I don’t have any questions for you.”

You can’t say that. The interviewer is going to ask if you have any questions and you have to ask some. Not asking them makes it look like you’re not enthusiastic or curious about the job. Prepare them beforehand and try to ask questions that make you look motivated and thoughtful.

“Just a second I need to respond to this text.”

I once read a study, the findings of which suggested that one-third of millennials think it’s OK to text during a job interview. And this article confirms that there are people out there doing it. Don’t do it. You will not get the job and you will look like a clueless idiot.

“This job will look great on my resume.”

If you’re looking for a job as a stepping stone for your career, don’t let the interviewer know. They’ll think you’ll quit the minute a better opportunity presents itself, which may be true but is something you should keep to yourself.

“I am the best person for this job.”

This seems like a smart thing to say on the surface of it, but it sounds arrogant. You don’t know that you’re the best person for the job. You haven’t met your competition, and you might not be nearly as great as you think you are. Do your utmost to demonstrate this but stop short of saying it. Hopefully, they will see it for themselves.

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