7 Things You Should Never Say in an Interview

May 27, 2011

The interview is going great. You can sense the company you are interviewing with is “buying-in” to what you are selling. They’re picking up what you are putting down, mopping up what you’re spilling, eating what you’re cooking, and drinking what you’re pouring. Here are 7 things you want to avoid saying that could cost you from hearing, “You’re Hired!”

1) I don’t know.
Even if you don’t know the answer to the question they’re asking, “I don’t know,” is definitely not the right response. Come up with something. Even if you simply restate the question they asked, it beats, “I don’t know.”

2) I don’t have any weaknesses.
Interviewers will ask what your areas of opportunity are for improvement. Rephrased: “What are your weaknesses? If you say you don’t have any weaknesses you may come off as arrogant. You should take areas of opportunity and “spin” them into positives such as: “I have a tendency to take on more than I should.” This covers an area of opportunity while also revealing the positive fact that you have a strong work ethic.

3) How much money do you make?
You’re thinking to yourself: someone would have to be an idiot to ask that question. You’re Right! But there are idiots in this world. It is however, a good idea to ask about the success of the person who is interviewing you. Successful people usually enjoy talking about their career victories. Once they have shared and highlighted their wins, be sure to say, “I hope to enjoy similar successes once I am part of your team!”

4) I couldn’t stand my last boss.
Though your last boss may have been an incompetent jerk, get creative in how you phrase your dislike for that person. This is a tricky thing to do. When you are in an interview, the person asking the questions often is visualizing you working in the position and what managing you will be like. A negative relationship with your last boss can trigger the impression that you are difficult to manage. In addition, your body language when discussing your former employer can be more powerful than what you say. Make sure your non-verbal communication matches your answers.

5) I wasn’t fired at my last job. I was asked to resign.
Overcoming a legitimate bad job experience can be tough. The good news: Your prior employer has to be extremely careful in explaining the details of your departure. They typically will offer your hire and start dates, positions, verification of compensation, and eligibility for rehire. Their vagueness gives you an edge in articulating and phrasing the details surrounding your departure.

6) How many vacation and sick days do I get?
If this is something you need to know before you make a decision, ask to see a copy of the statement of benefits. This is something you would want to ask for after you have been offered the job. You don’t want to give the perception that absenteeism is going to be an issue if they hire you.

7) Well, I really want to be a ___________________!
It may be the job you are interviewing for is just what you need to hold you over until you land your dream job. Talking about your dream job can reveal an excitement that you have not shown up until this point in the interview. This simultaneously reveals the lack of excitement you have for the position you are interviewing for and can cost you the offer. Emotional consistency is essential when answering interview questions.


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