It’s terrifying to know that the person you’re speaking to is weighing your every word—and could hold the power to change your future. This is why interviews can be so stressful, and why sometimes it can be hard not to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. No matter how long you prep for the interview, it’s actual practice that gets one better at interviewing. And while there are many things you should say in a job interview, it can be harder to focus on the things not to say. We’ve got the seven things to steer clear of mentioning if you really want that job.
This is an overlooked word that can highlight a negative aspect about yourself. Even if used in the nonchalant “oh, it’s ok” way, the word’s connotations imply that whatever the subject at hand is, your indifference is the only thing that sticks out. The word is lazy, and it will reflect poorly on how you handle questions, let alone tasks. There are many instances this word might seem appropriate to even begin a statement, but remember that it isn’t, even in cases from “What would you like to drink?” to “What type of role do you see yourself working towards?” If you can’t make your mind up during an interview, this will easily become obvious to the interviewer.
2. “How many days do we get for vacation?”
Perhaps you’ve got a family wedding coming up in a few months and you want to plan ahead or you’re just curious about the vacation policy; hold off on asking this question. You’ll find out the answer soon, when and if you receive the offer, and there’s no better way to ensure you get one than to not ask when you can take your first days off.
3. “Not my fault”
When faced with explaining something that did not work out as well as hoped for, try to explain the situation with grace instead of blame. Whether it was a project that did not succeed or a blow up in the office, do not point fingers. Instead, use this as an opportunity to showcase to your future employer just how you resolve conflicts and issues that arise. Not only will your explanation of a situation indicate your ability to solve issues, but it will signal that you are able to look past “who is to blame” to “how do we handle this situation?”
4. “Ugh, my last employer…”
Bad mouthing your current or past employer(s) doesn’t reflect poorly on them, it reflects poorly on you. Even if you have conflicts with your boss, don’t say that. There is to be no complaining in an interview. This would not only let the interviewer know that you cannot handle trying situations, but it would also really upset your employer if they ever found out (and they just very well could). However, if you’ve got an example of a difficult situation you had to overcome, then it is appropriate to mention it as it displays your ability to see a problem and solve it.
5. “I don’t know”
There is nothing worse than an interviewer asking something that they need to know about you, and then finding out that you don’t know that thing either. Before an interview, it’s paramount to refresh yourself on the basic interview questions most companies ask and then to dig deep into the company’s history, ethos, and your role’s requirements. If these two things are done effectively, then “I don’t know” should not have a chance to enter your brain as an answer. If, for some reason, you really do not know the answer, then ask a counterquestion that might help you figure it out on the spot.
6. “I’m not sure what my weakness is...”
Heralded as the dreaded question of all interviews, this is a no-brainer that it will come up. Therefore, you have been warned. Everyone has a work flaw, and answering “I’m a perfectionist” just won’t cut it. Think about when you felt like you struggled at your job, and it can be anything from time management to organization. Find the area you struggle in, and then come up with solutions as to how to combat this firsthand. By being self-aware, you are not only showing this to your interviewer, but you are helping yourself for future work.
7. “I don’t have any questions.”
Never leave an interview without asking at least one question. And while there are no bad questions per se, it’s important to have something smart prepared. While researching the company, jot down things you would like to know and things that might even apply directly to your job. Bring this sheet to your interview and if they are answered throughout your conversation, you can always counter something that was mentioned earlier with a question. If all else fails, asking about the day-to-day responsibilities, the important areas of growth within the role, and where the company hopes the new hire will be in 6 months are all good ways to finish off an interview.
Erika Nardini, an award-winning executive and unlikely CEO of bro-ish satirical sports blog Barstool Sports, likes to text interview questions to prospective new hires on the weekends. And she likes to text stuff like, "What’s your game plan for the day? What companies do you find interesting and why? Give me an example of a failure.
One of your top priorities as a job candidate should be to end your interview with a power punch – something that’ll make you stand out and show your enthusiasm. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s hard to do, especially when so many interviews end with you blandly telling your interviewer that you’ve got no more questions left for him to answer.