What Not to Say in an Interview

While it would be nice, there’s no magic phrase to use during an interview to land the job.   There are a few things that you can say that will almost certainly make sure you don’t move forward in the process. Even if you have the perfect background and a spotless resume, a few landmines can quickly derail the process. Staying away from these 8 mistakes will definitely increase your odds of getting to the next step in the process.

1. Sorry I’m late…

They say that your first impression is a lasting one. Being late implies that you have poor time management skills or that you have little respect or value for other people’s time.  If you don’t know the area where the interview will be held, map it out beforehand. Ideally, be there 5-10 minutes early, no sooner, or later.  If you make it too soon, the Hiring Manager may feel pressure to drop what they are doing to interview you, which may affect the outcome of your interview.  If you get there late, it may be very difficult to recover from a sloppy first impression.

2. I don’t know.

Almost anything is better than “I don’t know”.  Even: “That’s not something I have a lot of experience with, but I can get up to speed quickly” is a significantly better answer.  Do your homework before the interview and prepare for any potential concerns the interviewer may have.  There will always be a something you don’t know or haven’t done, so be prepared to address those areas.

3. How much will I get paid?

This is a terrible question, especially in a first interview.  You may think this is a reasonable question, but all the interviewer hears is: “All I care about is money!”.  Convey your interest in the industry, the specific areas you will focus on in the role or the company.  Don’t bring up money until much later in the process.

4. I couldn’t stand my last boss.

Nothing says I am negative and difficult to work with more than this.  Even worse, it says that you don’t understand basic social norms and will likely spread rumors and gossip at your company.  Even if your last boss was a jerk, it’s better to leave that part out of the interview and find another way to explain why you are leaving.

5. So, what does your company do?

Do your research!  One of the best things you can do in an interview (other than have relevant experience) is to know a lot about the company and the position you are applying for.  If you can talk about information that shows the interviewer you did your homework, you are sure to impress them.

6. Any curse word.

Just don’t do it.  Even if they do it first.  It’s a test and you will fail.

7. How can I get your job?

It’s fine to be looking for career growth and advancement, but “How can I get your job” is not the right way to convey your desire for growth. It gives the impression that you are not serious about the position you are interviewing for and will quickly be looking for something new to do.

8. No, I don’t have any questions.

Be engaging.  The interviewer wants to know that you are genuinely excited about this job. Asking questions shows that you are interested and want to know more.  Don’t only ask about benefits and vacation time.  Ask good relevant questions about the role, the company, their leadership style or what the ideal person looks like in their mind.  “How do I stack up against the other candidates you are speaking with?” is a good question to close the interview.