No matter how prepared you are, a job interview can be a daunting experience. What you say and how you express it during an interview is critical in supporting the interviewer in determining whether you are a suitable candidate and a great match for their business and environment.
But knowing what not to say is just as important as knowing what you should say.
This article takes a closer look at what you should aim to avoid saying throughout an interview, as well as ideas and examples of what you can say instead.
Table of Contents
“Sorry I’m Late”
This one goes without saying, but you must never be late to a job interview. No matter what excuse you come up with, it isn’t going to fly, and it’ll have a huge negative impact on how the interviewer views you and your approach to the job.
Being punctual is essential in every workplace, and being late to the interview gives the employer a taste of how unorganized you can be, even when it’s really important.
Likewise, you shouldn’t find yourself apologizing for being early either. If you rock up to the interview location 30 minutes before the scheduled time, you run the risk of making the employer feel guilty or under pressure right off the bat, which is only going to be a negative thing.
You should arrive at a job interview 5-10 minutes ahead of the scheduled time, no earlier, no later.
“I’m Feeling So Nervous”
Even if you are feeling nervous, you should never let the interviewer know this. Companies are looking to hire people that are confident in their skills and abilities, so don’t give yourself away right off the bat.
Besides, if you’re that nervous, the employer will probably pick up on that on their own. But if you work through this, the interviewer is likely to be more impressed with how well you handle your anxiety in stressful situations. Honesty isn’t always the best policy, in job interviews, fake it ‘til you make it!
“What Does This Role Involve?”
You should never need to ask this question in an interview as you should already know the answer. By asking about what the role involves, it shows the interviewer that you haven’t properly read the job description and advertisement prior to applying.
Study the job description diligently before walking into your interview and come equipped with questions about specific tasks involved in the role rather than asking what the job involves as a whole.
“What Do You Do?”
You shouldn’t need to know what the interviewer does, as you should already know enough about the company.
Also, asking the interviewer about their role can be seen as deflecting and they may think you’re trying to waste their time and avoid more important details.
“My Last Job Was The Worst”
You should never, ever openly mock a former employer or company in an interview, regardless of how bad the employment was.
Maintain a neutral to positive tone, emphasizing what you’ve learned from each encounter and what you hope to do in the future. This is especially true when discussing your reasons for leaving.
Positive responses to these questions might help reassure the recruiter that you will be a better match for their company’s culture and that you will not make negative comments about them further down the road.
When addressing questions regarding your prior company, aim to concentrate on what the position you’re applying for has to give that your previous employer didn’t.
“I Don’t Have Any Weaknesses”
Everybody has a weakness that they need to improve on, but if you claim you don’t, the interviewer will simply not trust you.
Certain talents are required by all businesses. It’s best to start by examining the job description and ensuring that these abilities are not listed as your major weakness. If feasible, state a flaw that is irrelevant to the job.
For instance, “when I get wrapped up in my work, I don’t spare enough time for myself or my personal life.”
Although failing to take enough downtime off is a shortcoming, it will have little impact on the position you are interviewing for.
You should also avoid saying that perfectionism is your weakness. This is an interview cliche and they’ve probably heard this a million times before.
Not only does it come off a little arrogant, it also gives the interviewer no insight into who you are as a person and how you handle difficult situations.
“I Really Need This Job”
Saying something like this in a job interview screams desperation, which can be unappealing to most interviewers. Instead, try to focus on how much you want to join the company and what you think you could bring to the role.
Sure, most individuals would sympathize with someone who has been laid off, is getting a divorce, or is struggling with family conflict.
Even if your recruiter is, he or she may be concerned about how your private situation may affect your performance at work. So, keep your concerns to yourself and keep the discourse on your work career.
“I Work Best When I’m Alone”
Most jobs involve working as part of a team in some respect, so you should avoid stating that you work best on your own or when you’re “left to just get on with it.” While you may see this as a strength, most employers will see this as a weakness.
There are bound to be times where you’ll be required to work alongside coworkers on a project. Also, it gives the impression that you don’t handle authority very well and won’t cooperate with managers and those in senior positions.
“I Don’t Know”
The recruiter might ask you a question for which you did not prepare or for which you do not have an answer. This can be an excellent opportunity for you to demonstrate your critical reasoning and problem-solving abilities.
You can consider informing the interviewer that you need a moment to think over your reply or asking for the details you need to piece together an informed answer.
“Are The Hours Flexible?”
If you ask these types of questions before you’ve been offered a job, the employer may doubt your ambition or professionalism.
If these things are essential to you, you might try asking about the corporate culture, which will usually inspire the interviewer to address the company’s work-from-home practice and vacation time.
“I Don’t Have Any Questions”
It is almost as crucial to have questions prepared for your recruiter as it is to be capable of answering the ones they fire at you. The points you raise are an opportunity to demonstrate your extensive understanding of the firm.
Towards the end of the interview, most recruiters will ask whether you have any questions. Thinking of relevant questions to ask the interviewer to demonstrate your interest in the business or role is a vital element of preparing for an interview.
“So, Have I Got The Job?”
Another point you should not raise during a job interview is explicitly asking the potential employer if you have the job. Alternatively, ask for the job throughout the conversation in a more subtle approach that shows the interviewer you’d like to be hired.
There are some things you can say to make a favorable impression on the recruiter. Understanding what to say and what not to say in an interview will enable you to get hired.