Are you on the hunt for a new job with no luck?
If you’re repeatedly getting turned down after attending interviews, you might be saying the wrong things.
A lot of people don’t realize how saying certain things can reflect poorly on them as potential candidates. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 24 things you should never say during a job interview.
Let’s get started.
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This is a big no-no and one of the most common mistakes we see. Never badmouth past employers, including your most recent one.
Don’t badmouth past managers, companies you’ve worked for, or coworkers, either.
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Sometimes, it can be a tricky topic to avoid, especially if you had to leave your previous job due to a toxic work culture, harassment, abuse, or a micromanaging boss who always put you down.
It might even seem as if the interviewer is edging you on and pushing you in the direction of saying something nasty about your past job.
However, blaming past employers or saying negative things about them can make you look like a flawed or high-risk candidate. The interviewer will wonder how well you’ll adapt to your new job and whether you’ll get along with your manager and coworkers.
They may suspect that the problem is with you, not others, even if that wasn’t the case, and they may be wary of you being unable to acclimate to the company culture.
If discussing your past bad experience at your previous job is absolutely necessary, be brief about it. Most of all, avoid blaming specific people or attacking them personally.
Also, don’t say something like, “I didn’t get along with my boss.” That will be a red flag because they may think there’s a good chance you won’t get along with your new boss too and might quit soon.
Instead, you might say something like, “I had to leave due to sexual harassment.” Keep it short and move on to the next topic.
The same applies if you’re still at your current job but planning to leave soon. Don’t say that you hate your job – what’s to say that you won’t hate your new one too?
Never say that you’re looking for something temporary until your dream company starts hiring again or until you go back to school. Hiring managers want dedicated employees who have a passion for the job and can commit to growing together with the firm.
If you see a particular position as nothing more than a stepping stone or a way to make some extra cash while you’re in between things, that’s fine. However, you don’t have to tell interviewers about it.
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If an interviewer asks you something that you already stated on your resume, don’t reply, “It’s all on my resume.” You can assume they’ve read it, so if they’re asking you, they have a reason.
Most likely, they want you to go into further depth about what you already said in your interview. They might just want more details from you.
However, they may also be probing to see how articulate you are when talking about the topic in person. It’s easy to be perfect when putting something in writing.
You can spend days perfecting your resume and using the correct language. You may have even hired a professional resume writing service to help you write your resume.
Therefore, be prepared to answer questions about things you’ve written in your resume.
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Never reply to a question with, “I don’t know,” regardless of what the question is. It could be a technical question or a question about what your goals are.
If it’s a technical question, answering that you don’t know shows that you did not prepare appropriately for the interview and lack the skills necessary to do the job.
If it’s a more open-ended question, such as “Where do you see yourself in five years,” answering that you don’t know shows that you are indecisive and do not have things planned out. You should have clear-cut goals and understand what you want in life and your career.
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It’s important to display confidence in your interview. It’s understandable to be nervous; if you show some signs of nervousness, it’s okay – it’s nothing they haven’t seen before.
However, you should also try to tone it down a bit and not display too much nervousness. You certainly don’t want to talk about how nervous you are.
Practice displays of confidence, like having a firm handshake, maintaining proper posture, making eye contact, and talking in a clear and loud tone.
Saying you’ll do anything at the company is a bad look. It shows that you are desperate to do any job and also not passionate about any position, skill, or job in particular at the same time.
Instead, if the company has several positions open, choose one or two that you are actually good at and say that you want those ones. If they decide to give you another job, that’s fine, but don’t say that you’ll do any job they give you and don’t care which one it is.
Also Read: Signs Your Zoom Interview Went Well
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Similarly, a lack of experience is not a virtue. It might not be an obstacle – there are other things that can make up for a lack of experience, such as good education, a willingness to learn, and a passion for the job.
However, it’s not a topic you would want to introduce into the conversation without being prompted. If the interviewer asks about your experience, talk about the attributes you have that make up for your lack of it, but don’t lead into the topic yourself.
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Avoid appearing arrogant or full of yourself. You shouldn’t say that you were the best at your previous job or that you had to leave because you were too good for the people that worked there.
While it’s essential to play up your strengths, there’s a fine line between doing that and being arrogant. Nobody wants an employee who has a big ego – such employees are hard to deal with and high risk.
They often fail to follow orders or ignore instructions because they think they know better than everyone else. They end up doing things their way and are seldom able to recognize their mistakes and take responsibility for their bad choices.
Check Out: Signs Your Interview Went Bad
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It’s essential to take breaks and relax a little. Knowing how to de-stress will prevent burnout and help you return to work with increased passion and intensity.
However, you don’t want to tell interviewers how much you enjoy partying, taking vacations, or relaxing. Saying you drink alcohol is a terrible statement, as it will make the interviewer wonder whether you have a good work ethic and whether you have your priorities straight.
Similarly, don’t talk about smoking marijuana, even if you will not be drug-tested for it.
You also don’t want to say you want a job that offers a good work-life balance.
You want to appear serious. If the interviewer asks you what you do in your free time, you can say that you go to the gym, read books, etc.
Avoid talking about promotions, bonuses, and getting a raise in your initial interview. It shows that you don’t care to put in the work and only want the benefits of the job as quickly as possible.
Don’t ask about how much vacation and time off you get, how soon you’ll get promoted, or whether you’ll be eligible for bonuses.
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You should also avoid divulging irrelevant personal information during your interviews. The interviewer doesn’t need to know about whom you’re dating, what their profession is, and how long you’ve been in a relationship.
They also don’t need to know about your uncle who works in the industry unless it is relevant somehow. Try to avoid giving away too much personal information in general.
However, you might be asked about your background, and it’s okay to talk about that. You can discuss your life story a little, but try to delve more into your professional career, education, life factors that influenced your decision to join this particular industry, and so on.
A common mistake is using filler words, especially at the end of sentences. Filler words include words like umm, yeah, and so.
They make you sound less confident, like you don’t know what to say. At the end of sentences, they’re even worse.
You don’t want to say something substantial and then conclude with something like, “Umm yeah, so.” If you make a statement or explain something, have a decisive conclusion that wraps things up instead of leaving things hanging.
Check Out: How To Answer “Walk Me Through Your Resume”?
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Your interviewer doesn’t need to know that you’re going through a tough time in your personal life. It might seem like a good idea to tell them about it to earn their sympathy, but interviewers are almost never going to make hiring decisions based on that.
Don’t try to appeal to an interviewer’s emotions or sympathy to get hired. Your case should be built on your merits.
Actually, the fact that you’re going through a difficult period in life could be grounds for dismissing you as an applicant because you might not be able to entirely focus on your new job and comply with its demands.
Your mind might get distracted by your troubles, you may have difficulty learning new things, and you might not show up on time.
Therefore, if things are tough for you, don’t mention it to your interviewer. Instead, get help from a qualified therapist who can help you work through those things.
It’s crucial to avoid swear words and unprofessional language in your interview. Words like F**K, S**T, B******T, D*MN, and other swear words make you look unprofessional.
On the flip side, don’t use high-level words that are uncommon in daily speech unless appropriate for the specific position. For example, if you’re interviewing for an IT position, you can use technical terms.
However, using words that look like you took them out of a thesaurus can make you seem arrogant and like you’re trying too hard. Use uncomplicated language that is easy to understand.
It’s not just swear words you should avoid. You should also avoid slang words, such as
At the end of an interview, you may be asked if you have any questions for the interviewer. The wrong answer is, “I have no questions.”
That shows that you aren’t truly curious about the job. Having questions shows you have the desire to learn more and know as much about the position as possible, so you can be the best at it.
You should always prepare a few questions to ask the interviewer. You can reuse many of these questions in most interviews you attend.
Here are some examples:
- What are the most important things for me to know when starting out and during the first few months?
- What is the biggest problem the company is facing, and how can I help?
- What are the biggest challenges I might expect?
- What do you like best about working at this company?
- What career development opportunities does this job provide?
- Can you tell me more about the company culture?
- Can you tell me more about the people I will be working with?
A good goal to aim for is 2–5 questions at the end of the interview. There are some questions you want to avoid, though, including:
- Basic questions about the company or any question that makes it obvious you didn’t do your homework or research the firm before the interview. An example would be, “What does this job entail?” You should know the basic job requirements before applying.
- Questions about bonuses, promotions, vacation time, etc. It’s important to discuss your salary, but being too focused on extra perks makes it seem like you’re just in it for the money.
- Any question that is negative. Don’t ask the interviewer what the cons are of working at the company or which things they hate most about the job.
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- “I really need this job.”
- “I’m desperate to get any job.”
- “I’ll take any job right now.”
If you’re desperate to get a job, it shows two things. First of all, it demonstrates that you’re not in high demand – if you were a catch, you would have a lot of job offers, and a lot of employers would be trying to hire you.
If you’re having no luck in finding a job, there might be something that’s stopping employers from hiring you, and the interviewer will want to know what it is.
In addition, it shows that you’re not truly committed to the company or even the job position. You’re applying not out of a passion for what the job entails but because you’re desperate for the money.
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Don’t rush the interviewer. It shows a lack of good time planning skills – it doesn’t matter if you have another appointment to get to.
It’s important to plan your schedule correctly to give yourself enough time for the interview. Scheduling things too close together will make you anxious and unable to focus during your interview.
Furthermore, rushing the interviewer shows them that you don’t truly value the opportunity and just want to get things over with as quickly as possible. The worst thing you can say is that you have another job interview to attend.
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If you are applying for a position at a company, it’s crucial to figure out how you’ll get there every day. Whether you’ll be taking the bus, leasing a car, using a bicycle, or using Uber, the responsibility is on you.
Some companies offer transportation benefits, such as a company Uber account or the Commuter Benefits Program. It’s okay to inquire about such a program during your interview, but don’t rely on the company to arrange transportation for you.
If you don’t have a reliable method of getting to the office on time, you might end up coming late multiple times a month. Nobody wants an unreliable employee, so make sure you have your transportation figured out.
Check Out: How To Answer “Tell Me About Yourself”?
Don’t ask if you can avoid working at the office. If the company allows you to work from home, they will let you know about their flexible remote work policy.
Otherwise, assume you will have to come to the office every day or at least on some days. Being unprepared to do that shows a poor work ethic.
Similarly, don’t say that you’d like to have flexible hours. If the job requires you to be at the company from 9-5, you need to show up from 9-5.
Stating that you’d rather work in the evening shows a lack of ability to work on someone else’s schedule and a lack of flexibility in your own life.
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It’s always a bad idea to interrupt your interview to take a phone call. You should put your phone on silent during your interview; if you have any critical calls to make, make them before or after the interview.
During the interview, give your interviewer your undivided attention. Otherwise, it will look like you can’t maintain priorities or focus entirely on the task at hand.
Even if you don’t answer the phone, it’s vital to turn your phone off, so it doesn’t keep ringing or pinging with notifications. Also, avoid checking your phone during an interview; turning your phone off will help you avoid getting anxious about not seeing which messages have arrived.
You might be asked what your biggest weakness is. Avoid “humblebragging” – saying something that you know isn’t a real weakness to appear better than you are.
An example would be citing your perfectionism, too much attention to detail, etc. Instead, use an example of a genuine weakness and then talk about how you are working on getting rid of that weakness and improving.
That shows that you are capable of some genuine soul-searching, self-inspection, and honesty. You’re able to realize when you have a true weakness and take steps to rectify your mistakes.
Saying that you are a perfectionist is also a bit cliché. The interviewer has probably heard many candidates claim to be perfectionists, despite most of them not truly fitting into that category.
Also Read: Sample Follow-up Emails After Job Interview
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If you are an out-of-the-box thinker, show it with your actions and ideas instead of just saying it. Saying it is not only cliché, but it also makes you appear like you want to be a rebel.
It’s a red flag, as you may not be able to acclimate to the company culture and be a good team worker.
When talking about the interviewer and the company in general, don’t use the term “you guys.” That shows that you have not worked in a professional setting before and are still using language you would use in college or with your buddies.
Instead, use terms such as “the firm.”
Also Read: What To Wear For A Zoom Interview?
Not all of these mistakes are fatal. Just because you used a slang word, that doesn’t mean the interviewer will automatically disqualify you – the situation is still usually salvageable, so don’t give up.
However, it’s best to avoid saying these things in the first place. That’s why I recommend bookmarking this page and reviewing it before you attend an interview.
Above all, be confident and come prepared! Show up on time and know how to answer the most common questions interviewers will ask you.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.