Things you should avoid saying in a job interview

The goal of a successful interview is to leave a lasting impression and to show yourself in the best light to match the open position.

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The first impression counts and the last stays. The goal of a successful interview is to leave a lasting impression and to show yourself in the best light to match the open position. 

The interviews are really not as intimidating as many might think, essentially you are deciding if this company and position are a good fit too. This is an opportunity for both sides to find the best match. We’ve put together some tips on what not to say in an interview to help you achieve the outcome you are seeking (plus a handy checklist you can use). We help talents to find the best fitting jobs for their skills and interests so we have quite a bit of experience and tips to share. Leave a positive impression and avoid saying the following things during a job interview:

“This position will be a great stepping stone to my next job.”

Companies put a lot of time, energy, and resources into hiring and onboarding. They want their employees to stay with the company for a long time. Suggesting the current position is only temporary and that you might leave will definitely not get you employed.

“My last boss and my team members were terrible!”

Be positive towards current or former colleagues. This shows the interviewer that you are respectful and a good team player. No matter how bad a job was, never speak negatively about a former employer or colleagues in an interview. The best thing to do is be neutral or talk about the good things you learned at your previous workplace and the challenges it helped you overcome.

“It’s on my resume.”

The truth is that most employers use CVs as a filter to invite talents for an interview. If an interviewer is asking you about a certain skill, don’t reference your resume because they probably want to know about your responsibilities and accomplishments in depth. Your job is to review your CV and explain why you are the best for the position. Plus some interviewers might only have enough time to quickly skim through your CV so this is your chance to explain something better and position your experience from the most relevant angle.

“I don’t have any questions.” or “I can’t answer that question.”

Asking questions always shows the interviewer that you are interested in their organization and company goals. Do your homework and prepare at least three questions that you would ask to show the employer that their company piqued your interest. 

On the other hand, instead of being clueless and saying, “I can’t answer that question…” ask if you can revisit that question later in the interview. This shows your professionalism. Try to put a positive spin on a negative answer. 

For eg: Instead of saying, “I don’t know if I can do that. I don’t have any experience…”, Say, “Despite my limited knowledge in this area I can/ I would be happy to…” and make a smooth transition into one of your transferable skills or show how you can contribute to it in other ways. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with taking a little pause to answer a question, collect your thoughts, and reply.

“I don’t think anyone else will be more qualified than me.”

This is a big no-no. No matter how unique a skill you possess is or how brilliant you are in something, being boastful only shows some characteristics which might put the interviewer off! Not to forget, it is not all about the qualification. Cultural fit has become a very important aspect of hiring. Pro tip: Be adaptive. To be a great fit for the team, being adaptive to the dynamics of the team/brand will help you in the long run.

Here’s a checklist that you can refer to before your next job interview:

  1. Most important: Be on time. This means, reaching 10-15 minutes early to the venue.
  2. Be sure to know your interviewer’s name and the correct spelling and pronunciation. If you’re unsure of the pronunciation, always ask the person how it is pronounced, don’t assume.
  3. Have some questions of your own prepared in advance to show you are interested in the company.
  4. Do some research on the company, including its website, social media, and employer review platforms. This will give you an understanding of what is important to the company and what they talk about, what their values are, etc. It is also a good idea to refer to this information during the interview, showing that you are committed and have done your homework. 
  5. Greet the interviewer with a handshake and a smile and don’t forget to maintain eye contact.
  6. Small talk about the weather and the city is a good warm-up. Spend some time establishing a rapport
  7. Topics to avoid during a small talk and during the interview: religion, racism, politics, and gender.
  8. Avoid bad-mouthing former colleagues and the company.
  9. Express yourself clearly and precisely. Take a deep breath if things seem overwhelming and then resume what you wanted to say.
  10. Patience is the key. Wait for the interviewer to mention the salary and benefits. You can do your research regarding pay scales. Refer to salary surveys and information on the career services website to be informed.
  11. End the interview on a positive and enthusiastic note. Ask what the next step will be. Thank the interviewer for their time and for expressing their interest in you for the open position. Leave promptly and politely with a handshake and a smile. Express your appreciation for the interview and the interviewer.

Stay real and don’t forget: The first impression counts but the last one stays.

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