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5 Things NOT to Say in a Job Interview

We’ve all been there at some point in the job search process. Sitting in the interview hot seat with sweaty palms, waiting for the interviewer to start rattling off questions that somehow we must answer skillfully. It can seem a lot like an interrogation. This experience can make even the most practiced candidate resort to saying something foolish, merely as a result of being nervous. It’s referred to as the “foot-in-the-mouth” syndrome and it can happen to the best of us!


interview what not to say

However, you don’t have to fall prey to this infliction or look bad to the hiring manager. Fortunately, you are reading this article now to learn how to avoid the top 5 things you don’t want to blurt out at an interview.

#1 – Anything bad or negative about a former employer.

In terms of job interview etiquette, this is a cardinal sin. You never want to portray a former employer in a negative light to a potential hiring manager. To do so can make you look bitter or disgruntled, and those traits are the last thing a new company wants to deal with. Instead, smile and try to share something positive about your previous employers. A US News article also advises to keep your story short, when talking about past experiences.

#2 – I’d like to give an example from back in the day…

The surest way to “date” yourself is to recall an event or circumstance going back more than five years. While it is illegal to discriminate against older candidates, secretly some recruiters will focus on younger job seekers who are fresh out of college or have current skills and training. To avoid this little snafu, provide a scenario without the actual name of the employer and give it a modern twist by using industry lingo that relates to newer technology.

#3 – Sure, I know all about that software, or type of project (but I am actually fibbing a little).

People will often say whatever it takes to get their foot in the door, including stretching the truth a little to indicate skills and experience. If a job calls for a specific type of software or project knowledge, do your research before the interview and see if it’s similar to something else you’ve used. However, don’t tell the interviewer you know the product or task unless you have some experience with it, as this can seriously backfire once you are on the job.

#4 – A complete list of all my weaknesses.

It’s classic for an interviewer to ask you about your strengths and weaknesses, as a part of behavioral interviewing. Yet, when a candidate gets nervous or lacks confidence in some area, the negatives tend to rear their ugly head. When asked about your weaknesses and strengths, give one simple weakness that’s more like a strength instead of a long list of things you don’t like about yourself. For example, try saying something about how you tend to over-organize or like to handle many tasks at once. A Recruiter.com article provides more examples of ways to turn your weaknesses into strengths.

#5 – What can your company do for ME?

The purpose of a job interview is to “sell” yourself to the hiring manager; compelling the company to hire you for the job. It’s not to walk in there and ask how much the job pays, what the benefits look like, or how you can advance your career. This information will be provided to you by a skilled interviewer naturally, so you don’t need to ask for it. Try to avoid asking what the company can do for you, and focus on what you can do for the company that would make them want to hire you.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever said something foolish in an interview and lived to tell about it? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

More from PayScale

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7 Stupid Statements That Can Sabotage Your Job Interview

Want to Ace That Interview? Try the STAR Technique

Image Credit

Stock photo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

6 Comments

  1. 6 A visitor. 17 Nov
    Many honest people do not get job because they unable to lie so sophisticately at job interview like others.
  2. 5 Mike Geffert 07 Jul

    First thing I do is "interview" the recruiter.  I want to know salary window; who is interviewing me at a minimum.  Then during the interview I find body language is so important - if you have multiple interviewers, try and remember their names, and use them during the interview.  Turn your body in the chair and look at the person talking - don't do a stare-down just look and smile and nod as appropriate - be involved with them.  Take your time with answers, think for a second or two before spouting off - answer the question and move on, unless pressed for more do not go on and on with an answer...

    When I can I try and guide the interview gently... 

  3. 4 idamodara reddy 18 May

    All Viewers

    Candidate always  be positively speak with interviewer what ever small/big/common sense question, dont give any negative remarks,don't bluff at any time.

    Don't make mistakes and  avoid lude comments about the prasent/previous company culture/work/boss/co employees etc...

    Not to speak/comment based on gender basis.(think &keep  they are your brother/sisters/Mother /Father by age and respect as a co- human beings and they have been in the field for quite some time,then you)

    Candidate avoid  asking the salary and other related points at the time of interview in 1st round and don't give reckless answers at any time,always be positive.Give respect and expect the same from others. 

  4. 3 Kevin 17 May

    I was fired from my last job. When interviewing I explain that our company was taken over by another company, that new management and I didn't see eye-to-eye on a number of matters, and that they decided we should part company. I'd get understanding nods, but never felt that I broke some cardinal rule. A lot of these articles are just plain stupid.

    As far as my weaknesses go, I've only got two - fast women and slow horses.

  5. 2 JS 17 May
    Good article. I'm pretty sure that everybody did one of these kind of mistakes at one point. I don't fully agree with #5. I think it depends about where you are in your life. If you got a good job already but are only looking for better, there is a way to ask what the company can do for you. Of course, when I graduated, I was going to accept anything so I never asked and it probably helped me. But, I'm pretty sure some companies like to see that you are not ready to accept anything, it shows you have really something to sell. In my book, an interview should be 50%/50%, both should sell themselves. I'm pretty sure, in general, that the best employees are more selective because they know their value.
  6. 1 James 16 May
    "

    #1 – Anything bad or negative about a former employer.

    In terms of job interview etiquette, this is a cardinal sin. You never want to portray a former employer in a negative light to a potential hiring manager."

     

     

    This is stupid.  You obviously left your last job for a reason.

     

    Did you leave your last job because the pay was too high or your boss was too nice?

     

    This article acts like 98% of bosses are respectful, caring individuals, so bashing them would be quite rate.

    I would say it's more like 75% of bosses are incompetent and 25% know what they're doing.

    Why should the 75% of incompetent bosses get rewarded by their stupidity?

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