Interviewing is an art, and like any art, you get better at it the more you practice it. Over time, you get a better hang of the sort of things interviewers ask, what they like to hear, and what they don’t like to hear. And you get better at selling yourself. Of course, these are generalizations; every hiring manager or human resources director—and every employment position—has different priorities.
But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to go through dozens of interview before you ace one and get the job. Studying up on interview best practices can put you on equal footing with people who’ve been through the process considerably more than you. And since they’re your competition, that matters.
In this piece, we go over some things you should never say or ask in an interview. They send up red flags to practiced interviewers that can keep you from getting that call back, especially if other job candidates steer clear of leaving negative impressions with theses types of comments and answers.
Don’t Say These Things in an Interview
- “What does your company do?” It’s important to show you’ve done your homework on the company and the position you’re applying for. This question indicates that you weren’t interested enough in the job to learn anything about it or the organization.
- “What perks do you offer?” This signals that you’re more concerned with what’s in it for you than how you can contribute to the success of the company. Interviewers are likely to be turned off by such a show of self-interest.
- “How soon do you give raises/promotions?” Much like the above, this is a selfish question. It makes you sound entitled and like you don’t think the job you’re applying for is good enough for you; it also implies you won’t be happy in the position.
- “I hated my last job.” It’s easy to start talking negatively about previous work experience, especially since many interviewers fish for it. Even if it’s hard, put a positive spin on things by focusing on what you learned and the new opportunities you’re looking for.
- “I hated my last boss.” Like the above, this makes you look negative and creates doubt about your ability to get along with supervisors. Everyone knows there are horrible bosses out there, but your interviewer will be forced to wonder whether you were the problem.
- “I’m so tired.” Refrain from making physical complaints about sleep, your feet hurting, a weird pain, etc., as well as complaining about your current life circumstances. An interview is not an appropriate setting for this kind of talk, and you’ll come off as a complainer and someone who makes excuses not to work hard.
- “I just really need a job!” You’ll be asked why you want the position. Desperation or having no other choice is not an acceptable reason. Employers look to hire people who want to be there. Your answer has to show that you have specific reasons for seeking this specific job.
- Curse words. No swearing in an interview. Not even the borderline ones. Keep your language professional.
- “I work too hard.” There’s also a good chance you’ll be asked about your biggest weakness. Don’t give this ridiculous, cliché answer—or the one where you say you’re a perfectionist. Come up with an answer ahead of time that offers something not related to the position (like, maybe you’re not good at public speaking), and say something about how you’re working on it.
- “I don’t know.” There’s nothing wrong with not knowing an answer, but there’s something wrong with this one. It shows you don’t want to work to reach an answer. Acknowledge that it’s a good question and try to talk through it, or if applicable, say you’ll get the answer when you leave and get back to them.
- “I know I don’t have experience…” While this may be the case in terms of your employment history, this isn’t how you want the interviewer to see you. Play up your strengths and talk about what you’ve learned and accomplished in other activities and experiences besides former jobs.
- “No, I don’t have any questions.” At the end, the interviewer will give you the chance to ask questions about the job and company. This is a great opportunity to show your interest and your desire to help the organization succeed. Saying you have no questions says you don’t care.