When prepping for a job interview, have you ever thought about what NOT to say? This is probably as important as thinking about what you SHOULD say! We can’t even count how many interviews we’ve been through this past year. Needless to say, we’ve worked out what you shouldn’t say in a job interview if you truly want to have a chance at getting the job. Here are 13 things you should never say in a job interview!
Don’t forget if you need a hand with your resume and cover letter, you can always work with us. Just click here!
#1 Never Talk Badly About Your Previous/Current Company
There’s a reason you’re looking for a new job. You either got laid off, you hate where you work, or the company offers you no further career progression. There’s bound to be some negative feelings at some point, but leave these out! No employer wants to hear you rave on about how bad your boss was, or how difficult some of your colleagues were to work with.
You never want to come across as a negative person. Interviewers will pick up on this very quickly. It’s all about how you work your answers. Plus, the interviewer wont want to take the chance that you’ll bad mouth the company you’re applying for.
When your interviewer asks you why you’re leaving or why you left your job, be as optimistic as possible. You can say you don’t feel the role is challenging you anymore, you’re looking for a change and so on. Make it more about you, rather than about the company itself.
The interviewer is trying to suss out your intentions for leaving and what you truly value. Be honest, be positive, and link in your reason for leaving with why you’d love to work for the company you’ve just applied for.
Remember, you can make a negative a positive. It takes practice, but it’ll be a worthwhile lifetime skill!
#2 I’m Just Looking For Anything
Never say you’re just looking for a job to pay the bills, or because you just want to leave your current role. This does not say you’re passionate about the role you’re applying for and you won’t be considered.
People want to know you applied to the role with intention and ACTUALLY want to work for the company. We get it though. Sometimes you just need a change or you’re worried about not being able to pay your bills. So even if you are just looking for anything you can get, at least pretend you’re passionate about why you’re applying.
#3 Avoid Cliché Answers
You know what we mean by these. Overused, common answers that interviewers have heard a billion times.
Saying things like your greatest weakness is that you’re too perfect, or you’re a workaholic; rambling off company facts coming ONLY from their home page (dig deeper and find something to show them you’ve REALLY done your research); that organization is one of your greatest strengths etc.
Yes, you CAN still say all of those things, but say it in a unique way that makes you stand out. This will all be a part of your interview preparation.
#4 Never Say “I Don’t Know”
Avoid this at all costs! Silence would be better than saying this! If you’re not sure on what to answer when they throw a difficult question at you, tell them you need a moment to think. That’s okay! Interviewers understand this.
They are also testing your ability to think on the spot and see how you handle difficult situations. So, it’s not ALL about the question they’re asking. Just breathe, gather your thoughts, and speak confidently. Show them you can keep composed during difficult situations.
Julia: I’ve been through seminars for interview prep and readiness. This is a common concern among many people. We were told that the best way to answer a question when you don’t know the answer is to be honest, and not fumble over filler words.
Worst case scenario, the a good response would be “That’s a great question, and I would love to take more time to research that and come back to you.” This shows you’ve acknowledged the question, are unsure, but would love to do the work into finding the answer.
Take this scenario as an example… The interviewer asks you about Working Capital and how it plays a role in the business. A response for this would be: “I am not yet familiar with that concept, but would love to learn more about it. Finance is something that I’m excited about, and have been actively trying to learn more.”
#5 Never Ask About Salary Up Front, or Vacation
When the interviewer opens the floor for you to ask questions, NEVER make your first question about salary or vacation time. This will tell them where your priorities lie.
Yes, salary is incredibly important, and you SHOULD ask it, but timing is everything. We wouldn’t even suggest to ask about vacation days though; however, if you know you’ve already planned a trip and its a substantial time it would show honesty and transparency if you inform them.
Julia: I recently was going through an interview for my current role and I knew I had a 3.5 week trip already booked and planned. Upfront, I said I have a trip planned and here are the dates. They appreciated my transparency, and yes, I got the job, and yes they’ve approved me for my holiday.
#6 Never Say “No” To Having Questions
Once your interviewer has gathered all the information they think they need, they’ll open the floor to you. When they ask “do you have any questions”, your answer is always yes!
By saying no, it’s telling them that there’s absolutely nothing else you want to know about the company. Even if you feel like they’ve covered everything… they haven’t.
Ask them about their management style, what they enjoy most about their job, what the culture is like etc. We suggest having up to 5 questions up your sleeve to ask! Ask them with confidence, too!
Lucky for you, we have the perfect interview prep that includes questions you can ask! Just click here to gain access 🙂
#7 Getting Too Personal
This is seriously the last thing you want to do with your interviewer. You’re not besties…not yet anyway.
Refrain from bringing up personal stories, religion, politics etc. If they ask you what you like to do for fun, tell them though! But don’t say you like to hit the clubs every weekend.
On the other hand, if THEY ask you a personal question, you have every right to say you’d rather not comment!
Amanda: I was being phone interviewed for a consulting job and the man asked me what my psychological profile was on Kevin Rudd. I had just come out from my Social Science degree and I was completely caught off guard.
Did I answer this question? Heck no! I deflected and told him about another criminal case I thought was really interesting. I’m not into politics by any stretch and I could never answer a question like that… nor would I want to.
That question actually put me off the job. Yes, I still went down and interviewed with them face to face, but I was going in with low expectations and already had a lack of respect for the interviewer.
Just remember you do have a choice as to which questions to feel you shouldn’t answer. And you have every right to tell the interviewer you’d rather not comment. However, again, you must be respectful with your decline. Perhaps, “thank you for your question, however I do not feel comfortable answering.” This way you’ve acknowledged, but deflected.
#8 I Want To Start My Own Business
No employer wants to hear this before you’ve even landed the role. When they ask you questions like “where do you see yourself in 5 years”, don’t answer with “I’d love to own my own business”.
This is telling them you don’t plan on sticking around with them for 5 years. And while 5 years is a long time, you’re basically telling them you’re going to leave.
You may be super passionate about wanting to start your own business, and that’s awesome! But keep that one to yourself and focus on ‘building a career’ with the employer.
Yes, we admit… it’s sometimes a game. You need to play it to win it, and if you don’t play it better than the next person, you’ll lose out. Just one of the many things you should never say in a job interview.
Just don’t do it. Even if your interviewer is dropping the f-bomb every second sentence, this is not your cue to as well! You can start swearing once you land the job… but we aren’t promoting this. What we’re saying is that it’s important that you understand the environment you work in first and foremost.
#10 Complimenting The Interviewer’s Appearance
You’re not going on a date. You don’t need to mention how nice their suit is, or how you love that colour blouse their wearing. They’ll just think you’re trying to butter them up with compliments… that and it’s just plain weird in this situation.
#11 I Really Need This Job
This just makes you sound desperate. Yes, you may very well NEED the job. That’s okay. But, don’t even admit that to the interviewer. Keep your cool and instead, explain why you are the BEST fit for the job.
#12 Asking About Company Benefits
Again, this tells your interviewer where your priorities lie. Right now, this should NOT be your priority. Company benefits are great and you’ll definitely want to get in on that action if you’re successful.
If you land the job, ask away! But this question should stay out of your interview.
Julia: With my recent interview I asked about company culture and the importance of the employees to management. This then lead to COO whom was interviewing me to explain to me 1. the company culture, but 2. how they look after their employees.
This included company benefits for the employees. There are ways to indirectly ask questions you want to know, but you must be able to frame them without being blunt. You don’t want to sit there and say: “What are my benefits or annual leave limits, etc.”
#13 Asking About Alternative Work Arrangements
Whether it be asking if you can work from home, or if you can change your working hours, just don’t even bother.
Usually if there is an opportunity to work from home, it will be mentioned in the job description (although not all the time). We also wouldn’t suggest to ask if you can work alternate hours.
For example, if the office is open 8:30-5pm, don’t ask if you can work 7:30 to 4pm because you work better in the mornings. Employers need their staff in their office WHILE the office is actually open.
Julia: Once I was hired, I received an e-mail from the CEO of the company explaining to me the value of the employees and well-being. He informed me of the alternative work options and times. You want to wait until you have the job to discuss things like this.
We hope these have been super helpful on things you should never say in a job interview. It’s definitely a hard task to remember what to say when you’re in the actual interview. But the point we’re trying to make is that you need to be smart with you answers AND your questions. Preparation is key so you never get caught off guard!
Do you guys have any other suggestions for what you shouldn’t say in a job interview? We’d love to hear them! List them below in the comments!
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Amanda & Julia xx