10 Things to Never Say During a Job Interview

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The job search is no walk in the park. In fact, a 2017 CareerBuilder study found 73 percent of job seekers feel it’s one of the most stressful things in life. And without a doubt, the interviewing process is quite possibly the most stressful part of the entire job search. 

Nothing skyrockets the nerves quite like meeting interviewers and understanding your future career is hanging in the balance of a 30-minute conversation. Simple phrases, statements, and even questions can leave interviewers questioning you as a candidate. Don’t let communication mishaps with your interviewers leave you out of the running for a great job. 

If you’re in the midst of a job search, here are a few things to stop saying to interviewers and what to say instead:

1. “Sorry, I’m really nervous.”

It’s completely normal to have nerves when interviewing. But sharing it with your interviewers isn’t a great strategy. Instead, focus on being confident and pushing through your nerves. No employer wants to hire someone lacking confidence. 


2. “I love your shoes!”

Flattery won’t win over your interviewers when it’s focused on what they’re wearing or something they own. It could potentially read as fake. If you want to share a compliment with your interviewers, focus on something related to the company’s work that you admire and can chat about with ease.

3. “I’ll do whatever you need me to. I just really want a job!”

You may be excited about employment, but desperation isn’t going to do you any favors. Instead, share with your interviewers why you’re the right fit for the job you’re interviewing for. This could be related to your skills, experience, and even why your personality is a match. 

4. “I would say my perfectionism is my greatest weakness.”

When it comes to sharing strengths and weaknesses, avoid these standard responses. Interviewers won’t buy into this response because it’s likely dishonest. A response like this also doesn’t give any insight into your work style or personality. For example, choose a weakness that’s a strength in disguise or something you’re actively working on improving and have solid proof you can share with interviewers.

5. “My synergistic approach to the campaign drove ROI.”

Interviewers won’t fall for buzzwords and jargon. If your interview answers are dripping with these types of phrases, you aren’t giving a concrete example of the work you’ve done. They also may make you come off to interviewers as conceited. Try using more descriptive explanations when sharing your wins. A great example would be sharing the research you did to establish your campaign and the top metrics of success.

6. “I don’t know.”

This response is an easy slip-up. If you really don’t know the answer to an interview question about you or your background, spend a moment gathering your thoughts. If nothing comes to mind, let your interviewers know you’ll get back to them by the end of the day. Remember, situational interview questions aren’t always about having the right answer. These questions are often about sharing your thought process and personality. 

7. “Can you share the title of this role, again?”

It’s essential to come fully prepared for every interview. Any questions showing your lack of research into the company, the job description, or the industry itself show your interviewers that you’re unprepared and potentially disinterested in the job. Prepare for each job interview by researching as if you were studying for a final exam.

8. “How quickly do people in this role typically get promoted?”

Interest in furthering your career is great. However, hiring managers want employees that will commit to a role in the long-term. Talking about advancement before you even have the role isn’t usually a good sign you want to stick around. If the question arises about your goals for your future, find a way to bring up how advancement typically works within the company. 

9. “At my last company, I didn’t like…” [Any complaint about your last company.]

No matter how bad a job was, never share criticism about an employer or manager in an interview. If you have had negative experiences, keep your tone neutral and share what you learned from the experience and how it helped guide you along your career path. This is especially important when you’re talking about why you’re leaving your current role. 

10. “No, I don’t have any questions for you.”

You may think this makes you sound confident and prepared, but in reality, it can seem as if you lack curiosity about the role or company. Interviews are conversations and interviewers want to engage with candidates. Prepare a few questions related to the company or role to help you gain more knowledge at the end of the interview. 




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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, LinkedIn.