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.

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