5 Things You Should Never Say in a Job Interview

So, you’ve landed the interview and taken some time to review advice about answering every question from the commonplace to the outrageous. But how much have you learned about what not to say? Sometimes, even a single serious faux pas can mean the difference between landing a position and having your resume quickly shuffled into the discard pile.

To help you navigate these potentially treacherous waters, here are five things you should never say during a job interview.

  1. “My supervisor was insufferable.”

No matter how rough working for your manager was, trash-talking them will always be seen as a negative. It reflects poorly on your level of professionalism and may call into question your ability to see if you played a part in the contentious situation.

When you speak negatively about your current or previous boss, a hiring manager may wonder if you are difficult to manage. This is often due to the fact they are more inclined to give your manager the benefit of the doubt unless they specifically have a reason to think otherwise.

  1. “I’m sorry. I’m really nervous.”

An interview is a stressful situation, so most hiring managers know candidates will have some jitters. However, being nervous should never be used as an excuse. Instead, it is better to handle small mistakes with tact and grace; not with excuses.

If you find yourself fumbling over a question, take a deep breath and start again. This will show you have the ability to manage challenging situations well and have the confidence to regroup even when things aren’t initially going your way. In fact, if you can turn things around, your composure may be seen as an asset.

  1. “My greatest weakness is I’m a perfectionist/I work too hard.”

While these two statements are different, they both reflect in a similar manner. Trying to reframe a (likely exaggerated) positive as a negative is an old trick, and it won’t impress a hiring manager.

Often, sticking with clichéd answers such as these will be interpreted as a lack of insight on your part into what you actually need to overcome. Or, it may be seen as completely disingenuous.

Instead of trying to find a way to avoid discussing a weakness, identify a weakness that could actually use improvement. Follow up the comment with the efforts you are making to change it.

For example, if you don’t have substantial experience with a specific skill, look into formal classes or online courses that can help you improve. Then, when you bring up the weakness during the interview, you can include information about the class you intend to take to improve that skill area.

  1. “Can you tell me about the company?”

When you’re given a chance to ask questions, this shouldn’t be one of them. It is your responsibility to do some research on the company prior to arriving. You should have a reasonably clear idea of what they do and a general sense of how they do it.

Asking for easily accessible information about the business shows you didn’t dedicate the time to learn anything about the company before arriving, and that won’t leave a good impression. However, if you did learn about the organization and are interested in certain details, this is appropriate.

For example, phrasing a question, “I saw the company does X, so I am wondering if you can tell me more about Y?” Asking a question like this shows that 1) you did your research and 2) you are interested in learning more. That method of getting information can be seen as a positive.

  1. “What does the job pay?”

Typically, it is not the candidate’s place to broach the topic of salary. Asking this question can be seen as anything from presumptuous to completely inappropriate, especially if the conversation hasn’t begun taking that turn.

If the hiring manager starts discussing details about compensation and benefits, and you are interested in something more specific, then it’s appropriate to ask follow-up questions. But remember, this part of the discussion should be solely at the interviewer’s discretion.

If you are interested in learning additional tips about interviewing or are looking for new employment opportunities, The Squires Group has the knowledge and experience to help you move forward in your career. Contact us to explore open positions in your community today.


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