Top 10 Things You Should Never Say During a Job Interview
Avoid the Wrong Answer!
Many job candidates are nervous about participating in a job interview. After much hard work writing countless resumes, cover letters, and job applications, these individuals hope that they will interview well, impress the hiring officer of the company to which they have applied, and finally get hired.
With some practice and preparation, employment interviewing need not be a mystery or a horror. In fact, it can be enjoyable, informative, and even fun. In addition, every interview that you complete will make you more practiced in the art of interviewing. By continuing to interview for jobs, you will learn the range of a variety of questions and scenarios that may confront you. Then you will be better prepared to win the job of your dreams!
There are many different comments that are inappropriate to make during a job interview. I gathered these ten things from my years of workforce development assignments with employers in my area.
Ten Things to Never Say in a Job Interview
1. How much does this job pay?
2. What does your company make/do?
3. Slang words or phrases.
4. What are the benefits, vacations, promotions, and bonuses?
5. Curse words or profanity of any kind.
6 Stereotypical language about other people.
7. Anything critical about a former employer.
8. No, I have no questions for you.
9. I don't have any weaknesses.
10. Your life story.
10 Things to Never Say in a Job Interview
1. How Much Does the Job Pay?
Some applicants ask this question before the interviewer has a chance to even ask his or her own first question, and this is a big mistake.
To ask about money first makes it seem as if all you are after is money, possibly with as little work as possible. As a rule, wages and salaries are not discussed during the first interview. If they are discussed, this will occur at the end of the session and usually via the interviewer asking what salary you expect. Give a range of salaries you can accept, rather than a fixed amount so that you do not limit your earning capabilities too tightly.
You may have three interviews altogether with one company. If money is discussed, it is up to the interviewer from the company to open up that subject. If he asks you how much money you want, have a range of salaries ready to provide. First, however, research how much the job you want really pays in your town and state, then come up with a range of a yearly salary to request. Look at Salary.com for help with this.
Example: Let's say an auto mechanic makes $35,000 a year in your city after working for five years. When you apply to become an auto mechanic, state the range of pay you want as $32,000-$38,000 a year, or similar. Or you could use a broader range, like $30,000-$40,000 a year. Make sure it is a realistic range. For example, if a fast-food full-time grill man in your town usually makes $13,000 per year, don't interview at that restaurant and ask for $20,000-$30,000 per year.
2. What Does Your Company Make/Do?
A job candidate must research the company for which they want to work before going into a job interview. Look the company up on the Internet and read as much as you can about it and take notes. Many company websites feature tabs for "About" and "History," so make sure to read them. Try to find the company's annual report and read it. Your local libraries can help you do that.
3. Slang Words or Phrases
The interview is not a casual conversation with friends on a street corner or in a lounge. The interview is a formal conversation and requires the use of good English grammar. There is not time enough during an interview for the interviewer to figure out what you are talking about. On the other hand, even if they do understand you, you are being disrespectful and overly casual by using slang. You will also sound like you are playing and not serious about doing good work, and the interviewer won't take you seriously. Just don't do it.
4. What Are the Benefits, Vacations, Promotions, and Bonuses?
Hiring officers and job interviewers like job candidates with self-confidence, but they do not like people who are selfish. The first interview you have with a company is all about what you can do for them. You are not doing them a favor by interviewing with them, so keep these questions until the second interview or until the interviewer opens up the subject.
The interviewer will ask you why the company should hire you and then you can more fully emphasize your skills, talents and contributions you have to offer them. Be prepared to tell clearly what specific ways you have helped your former employers.
The truth is, our language does betray us. Our words are a direct reflection of our thoughts and anyone who is incapable of expressing him- or herself without the use of profanity is handicapping themselves to an incredible degree.— Champion Salesman Zig Ziglar
5. Profanity and Cursing of Any Kind
You must never curse, cuss, or use any kind of profanity in any job interview. Profanity includes scatological references like the the word "p*ssed," as in "p*ssed off." That is cursing by using references to bodily functions and it is profanity.
In addition, do not say "damn", "hell", the F-word, or, of course, the N-word. In addition, women are women and not "girls" or "‘hos."
6. Stereotypical Language
Do not refer to people of other genders, sexual orientations, nationalities, ethnicities, races, handicaps, religions, or any other diversity by using any slang, negative terms, slurs, or other denigrating language. Ever.
Again, see the Zig Ziglar quote above.
7. Anything Critical About a Former Employer
Bashing a former boss, or criticizing them in any way, lets the interviewer know that you will do the same to them if you leave their company. Instead, you can explain that you had a difference of opinion with your former employer in work philosophies or styles. Do not dwell on your answer about an employer where things did not go so well for you, and make it short.
8. No, I Have No Questions for You
Saying NO says to the interviewer that you are not very interested in the company and not very smart. So be smart.
If you are asked if you have any questions, don't say "No."
When you research the company before your interview, come up with at least three questions to ask about the company itself during the interview. For example, ask what plans they have to expand in the next 10 years or ask what new products and services they might be considering. This is not the time to ask about salary and benefits, either.
9. I Don't Have any Weaknesses
You will likely be asked what strengths and weaknesses you have. If you say you don't have any, the interviewer will believe that you are lying or that you are not thinking.
You can say that you don't like to waste time on small talk and are working on being more friendly in the workplace. This is a positive "weakness." Further, you can choose one of your still-developing skills and describe how you are working to improve it. This type of continuous improvement is always appreciated.
10. Your Life Story
The interviewer will ask you to tell them a little about yourself, but this means where you went to school, what you accomplished in school, where you have worked, and how you have helped your former employers. It can include a little about hobbies and volunteer work, but don't dwell on these things.
Don't tell the employer anything that will lead them to knowing your age (unless you are under 18), race, policies, gender-related orientation, religious beliefs, medical conditions, or other personal information. Legally, until they are offering you a job, the employer is not allowed to even ask you if you are married, have children, or are planning these things in the future.
Interviewers can ask you what certifications and licenses you have relevant to the position.
If they ask you what nationality your last name is, politely answer that you don't know how that is relevant to the job, but that you would like to discuss your qualifications. If they ask you how old you are, tell them that you will gladly provide that information after you are hired. The exception to this is if you need to be at least 18 years old to work for the company in the USA. If you are 21 and look young, you may have to answer this question.
Finally, do not bring up personal problems in a job interview, including divorce, breaking up with a girlfriend, bankruptcy, etc.
Preparing Interview Responses
Vulgar, violent, improper language or coarse, racist, sexist jokes will limit opportunities in the choice of a mate, the selection of a job, the building of a career, and the establishment of friendships.
The message is clear: Learn the language rules; practice them in your everyday life."
Experiencing a work readiness class or mock interviewing class or workshop can be a big help in knowing what to say and what not to say during interviews.
There are also things that your potential employers' representatives should not say to you or ask you.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2007 Patty Inglish MS