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11 Things You Should NEVER Say In A Job Interview

Interview PreparationSuzie Finch
Things not to say in an interview.jpg

All that hard work searching and applying for positions has paid off, you've nailed it and got yourself a job interview (yay), but hang on a sec, things are starting to get real, "what if I buckle under the pressure and say something stupid?". Worry not, these interview pointers will ensure you keep the fear at bay, banishing negative statements like the below from all future interviews. Winner. Go get 'em.

"I don't know"

It is within reason that you'll get asked a question during an interview that you don't actually know the answer to (in-fact an interviewer may deliberately ask you a difficult question to gauge how you handle such a response). Using the answer "I don't know" shows a limited creative thought process and may make the interview feel awkward (you want it to flow).

Try asking a question in return to clarify additional information (and to buy some more thinking time), if this still doesn't heed an angle for a positive return, you could explain how you would go about finding out the necessary information.

"How much is the salary"

A job interview is the wrong time to ask about money or benefits, it basically screams to an employer "I'm only interested in the money". The job interview is a time for getting to know one another, for the employer to understand the skills and experience of the candidate and for the candidate to get to grips with the position and culture of the company. Save conversations about money and benefits for later in the recruitment process.

“Show me the money” - Jerry Maguire

“Show me the money” - Jerry Maguire

"Sorry I'm late"

There are no excuses for not turning up to an interview on time, research the journey, make allocations for travel delays and know exactly where you are going well in advance. First impressions are crucial in a job interview, by turning up late you are giving the first impression that you are an unreliable person.

"I didn't get on with my last boss"

Avoid using negative comments towards previous employers and their personnel, these types of comments reflect badly on you not your previous company. Your interviewer is interviewing you from a position of seniority and therefore is more likely to relate to the difficulties that management teams can encounter with personnel. Always try to use positive terminology, portray yourself as an upbeat person who is a joy to work with.

"Tell me about what your company does"

No other comment will destroy your job chances quicker than this, employers are expecting you to have done your research, if you don't know what they do or what the job is before you turn up then they will immediately question why you are in the room.

Your interviewer wants to know that you are engaged and interested in the opportunity on offer. Asking questions that probe details are a great way of doing this, however giving an impression of I don't know what you do is never great.

"Sorry, my CV is incorrect"

When an interviewer is reading through your CV and asking you questions, they may ask about employment dates not tallying up, or their concerns over your attention-to-detail based on a typo they have found. The simplest remedy here is to ensure your CV is 100% correct from minute one.

Don't put yourself in that awkward position where your only fallback is "Sorry, that isn't correct". If an employer spots one mistake on your CV, then they'll immediately think "What else on this CV is incorrect?"

"I don't have any questions"

Employers want to be confident about making the correct hiring decision, when the end of the interview comes and they ask if you have any questions this gives you the perfect opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the company, the role and what has been said during the job interview.

If the interview has covered a lot of topics, it can be acceptable to say, "that's it, I think we've covered it all", however you'll want to grab this moment to express your full understanding of what's on offer with insightful questions.

Need inspiration, check out these interview questions you must ask at your next job interview.

"um, err, like"

Repetition of filler words such as "um", "err" or "like" give the impression of uncertainty and that you lack confidence. Clarity is key, be clear, concise and professional. Practice tough interview questions in advance to help you prepare for what's to come.

Overcome your insecurities, otherwise you might not actually make it into the interview, as this beautiful and perfectly executed short film demonstrates from Elevation Creation:

If you need more help on eliminating those filler words check this site out.

"How much holiday time do I get"

The first objective of a job interview is to get the job in the first place, once you know that an employer is keen and interested you can talk details. By mentioning holiday and asking about benefits during the interview it just gives the impression that you're a selfish person (which is a very unattractive quality).

"Sorry, I thought my mobile phone was switched off"

No excuses here, before entering the interview turn your mobile phone OFF, not silent but OFF. It's imperative you give the interviewer your undivided attention for the duration of the interview.

"I'll have a beer please"

With the emergence of free alcohol and bar culture within our offices, interviews can seem like informal meetings at times. If interviewing in an environment that serves alcoholic drinks avoid the temptation. Keep things strictly professional even if your interviewer is indulging.

"Is it OK if my PA joins us"

Real life experience (a funny first-hand experience of what not to say in an interview) …

Back at the start of 2011 I was freelancing for a start-up digital agency, I was drafted in to help them find and attract permanent web developers to join their expanding tech team. One Monday morning we had an interview arranged with a bright young chap, who, on paper, looked like a perfect candidate. Upon arrival two people turned up, a little confused I went over and introduced myself expecting it to be the candidate and perhaps their friend who'd come along for support, but this wasn't the case. Upon introductions it was clear this was no friend; the candidate had brought their Personal Assistant along who stated, "I'm here to take the minutes of the interview and negotiate terms on behalf of my client".

This was a first for me, but going along with the idea I interviewed the candidate who after each question would consult with his PA. All very strange, so after around 10 minutes I called it and said, "I don't think this is going to work out for us" and showed them the door. In the years following this funny and quite bizarre job interview I've never encountered anyone who’s experienced anything similar! Odd.

In short, don't say "Is it OK if my PA joins us".