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Job interview tips: What not to say during job interviews

July 05, 2023

Job interview tips: What not to say during job interviews

Ever come out of a job interview mentally kicking yourself and thinking, “maybe I shouldn’t have said that?”

It’s because we’re programmed to prepare how to answer questions, but we tend to forget there are things we say that can hurt our chances to get a callback.

Some of these may be common knowledge, but would still serve as good reminders. On your next job interview, remember this list of what not to say during job interviews—and why.

12 things you should not say during job interviews

1. “I’m sorry I’m late”

Don’t have a reason to say this line at all. Please don’t be late to your interview. Not only do you show unprofessionalism, it also gives the impression that you are not serious about the job you are applying for.

If you cannot make it on time for the job interview schedule you agreed to, politely request for a reschedule especially if you have a valid reason. Especially now that most interviews are conducted online or via phone, there are no excuses for being late. Making the interviewer wait for you is not exactly a great start.

2. Any rants about your boss, company, previous job

If you have complained about your old work to your interviewer, does it mean you will complain about this one in the future?

Ranting about your old job is uncalled for, even if it was not the best work experience you’ve had so far. The interviewer could easily think that you would bring the same ranting to the company.

When asked why you left your old job or how your relationship was with your previous boss, focus on the good things and what you learned from them. You don’t have to lie or hide anything; feel free to say things that you wish were better. But leave emotions out of it and do not make it the highlight of your interview.

3. Cliches, overused words

The queen does not need to announce herself, and neither should you tell the interviewer that you are “innovative” or a “go-getter.” Instead, share instances wherein you were able to demonstrate your abilities or soft skills. Instead of saying that you are a “team player,” talk about a project wherein you achieved so and so results when you collaborated with people from various departments.

Also, avoid answering cliches when asked what your “greatest weaknesses” are. The interviewer can see behind, “I’m a perfectionist” or “I’m too honest”. When the hiring manager asks you what your weaknesses are, give genuine answers but don’t forget to add how you’re trying to improve on it.

4. “I’m nervous about this interview”

While you possibly mean well or trying to be humble, this might backfire. It shows lack of confidence and the interviewer might think that you are not qualified for the role. If you are nervous coming to your job interview, take a few minutes to calm down (prior to schedule) before saying hi to the interviewer or joining the meeting/conference.

5. “You can find it in my CV”

If the recruiter asks something that’s obviously on your CV, it means they’re interested in hearing more about it. The spotlight is on you, so make the most out of it. Take this time to talk more about your work and highlight your skills that are relevant to the role you are applying for.

6. Jargons, acronyms, and anything vague

How to answer interview questions so you and the recruiter can understand each other better? Lessen the jargon unless you are 100 certain they are familiar with your acronyms. For instance, if you’re applying for a food manufacturing company the probability of them knowing what FMCG means would be higher as to if you’re applying for jobs in the travel industry. Instead, use weekend language—communicate your work through interesting anecdotes instead of pure corporate jargon.

7. “Uhm”

Avoid at all costs. It shows lack of confidence and difficulty in getting your message across. Will the interviewer doubt if what you are saying is true based on how you speak? Can you really do the things you say you can do? To remedy this, practice answering some common job interview questions before your meeting. Listen to your voice. Will you hire you? The familiarity with your words (and remembering how you can articulate them) can boost your confidence and hopefully, reduce the uhms in your phrases.


8. Anything unrelated, personal, and unprofessional

Even if chatting is already part of our culture, even if you mean well, keep the interview professional. When you ask questions, make sure it is related to the role or the company. Even if the interviewer is very friendly or you have common friends, it is still work and they are representing the company.

9. Anything offensive

Be mindful of your words. Nothing derogatory, no sexist remarks, no racist comments. Even if cussing is already part of your nature, make a conscious effort to not say foul words during your interview. Again, keep things professional.

10. Compensation and benefits

Especially during the early parts of the interview. If you are curious about these things, research ahead. Check company reviews, ask current employees who might be in your network, or research on industry standards. Compensation and benefits are crucial for most employees. While the need to know more about this is understandable, there is a right time for it.

11. “Can you tell me more about your company?”

Do your research in advance. If you have done so and still have questions, phrase it in a way that shows that you are genuinely curious and have exhausted all means to learn more about the company. Say something along the lines of, “I have read that your company has [interesting fact], but was not able to find [curiosity piece] and I am curious about it. Can you tell me more about it?”

12. “No questions from me”

You might be shy to ask, but not asking the hiring manager anything could be misinterpreted as you’re not really that interested about the post. End the interview by asking to elaborate a few aspects of the role, if they think you are a good fit for the team you are joining, or what the next step in the interview process is and when you can expect feedback.

Like in all situations, there’s such a thing as oversharing in job interviews. Keep it professional, and answer questions directly without giving away unnecessary details. That’s really all you have to remember as you go into your next interview. Good luck!

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We usually come to interviews knowing what we have to say: strengths, achievements, how we would make such a good fit.

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