What not to say in a job interview

It’s good to know what to say in an interview, but the content you speak can vary so much. In this blog, we talk about all the things you should really avoid saying. For multiple reasons, certain phrases and topics can show some negative things, such as, bad attitude, thoughtlessness and carelessness which is likely to leave a bad impression. Here is our list of what not to say in your next job interview.

Talking poorly about your previous employer

Even if a bad employer was the reason you left your last position, don’t start to gossip or speak badly about them. This causes people to question whether you are difficult to work with or if you are a team player. It can also be an indication of how you might speak about them in the future! Instead, you can say something like, ‘My last workplace wasn’t quite the right cultural fit for me, and I am looking forward to working with a team where I can help achieve shared goals’.

Answering a question with, ‘that’s on my resume’

Yes, they know it’s on your resume, that’s why they’re asking for more information. Share some anecdotes, your experiences, and what you achieved there.

Saying, ‘no, I don’t have any questions’

Always come prepared with questions! Some of your questions may be answered during the interview, so come with many appropriate questions to ask. Asking questions indicates your interest and efforts. It also shows you are engaged and thinking ahead. If you need some help thinking of what to ask, our friends at Peoplebank have created this list of 55 potential questions you could ask in an interview.

Talking about your lack of experience

Don’t emphasise a lack of experience, this will stand out in their minds as what you can’t do. Simply talk about your transferrable skills instead.

Overly practiced answers

It is quite obvious when someone has rehearsed their answer too much. It’s good to practice, but make sure you are still coming across as someone who can have a regular conversation. In the real world, we rarely get to rehearse our conversations and part of the interview process is seeing how you deal with people and how you respond to perhaps some surprising questions.

Saying perfectionism is your greatest weakness (or saying you have no weaknesses)

We all have a weakness, what’s important it that you know what it is, can be honest about it and are doing the work to improve upon it. Perfectionism may very well be one of your weaknesses, but it’s an overly used answer to try and tell people you strive for greatness and perfection when that is not the answer people look for.

Asking ‘So, what does this company do?’

You should have done your research pre-interview. It’s okay to have further questions based on what you’ve found out, but it’s wise to know at least the general premise and purpose of the business you are interviewing with.

Other things not to say include:

  • Swearing and foul language
  • Overly personal stories
  • Complimenting the interviewer physically
  • Telling them you’ll have their position in 5 years’ time
  • Asking about money and benefits in the first interview - this can wait
  • ‘I don’t know’
  • Saying things like ‘I can do this job with my eyes closed’

Last tip: You can think before you speak. You don’t have to answer immediately, you can say, “Hmm, that’s a great question, I’ve just got to think for a moment before I answer’.

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