Things you should not say in interviews

Have you ever been in an interview and you totally stuck your foot in your mouth? I sure have! You know it’s important to dress appropriately, have good posture, look the interviewer squarely in the eyes when you give him or her a firm handshake, and be confident and friendly.

We’ll share what you shouldn’t say in an interview. You may think some are funny, but I’ve experienced each one…either as an interviewee or the interviewer.

The interview can be an anxious and stressful experience. You can say a thousand things right, but one wrong move and the interview is blown. Here are a few things you definitely should not say during an interview.


Improper key words

Let’s start with words you should leave out. Remember, I’ve heard these and more during interviews, so it’s more common than you might think.

  • Stupid
  • Lazy
  • You know
  • Huh?
  • Awesome — I’m guilty of saying this!
  • Chill
  • That’s cool
  • I’m down with that
  • Useless
  • Whatever

That’s a good question — Really? Because the interviewer probably was wondering if it was. I’ve been caught saying this.


No poor language

Just like our improper keywords, it’s best that you keep your vocabulary clean. Nothing is worse than poor language, f-bombs, or words you would ordinarily say…especially coming from the mouth of an otherwise attractive candidate. Even if the interviewer a close connection or not the decision-maker, he or she is “on the clock” and a representative of the company and should be treated with respect the same way you would talk to the owner or CEO. Ask yourself, would I say that to my mother?


“Sorry I’m late”

For people like me, it’s a major red flag. If you’re late to the interview, even if it’s for valid reasons, you give the impression that you’re not very interested. They’ll likely give you the same attention during the interview. So, do whatever it takes not to be late, even if you have to read a book or conduct research in the parking lot. You don’t want to give them the impression that you’ll be unreliable on the job.


“What does your company do?”

You should have conducted plenty of research before writing your resume, as well as more research in advance of the interview. If you ask questions about the prospective employer that would have been answered with research, you’ll come across as unprepared, unmotivated, and not truly interested.


“My old boss was a jerk.”

It’s possible that your former boss was a complete jerk. But, saying it makes you look bad and raises a serious red flag. It’s possible the reviewer knows or has been in touch with your past boss. Like your old boss or not, it’s best to keep your feelings to yourself and, if asked, keep your remarks positive.


“I was fired”

Even if you were fired from a past job, let the employer know that the situation didn’t work out or it wasn’t a good fit. Saying you were fired could shift the tone of the interview, and a prospective employer might start focusing on your bad attributes and wondering why you were dismissed instead of looking at your positives and focusing on your qualifications. You’ll be asked this in each of your interviews, so be prepared to answer that question.


“I’m a perfectionist.”

Yeah right. Even if it’s true, give the interviewer something. It’s best to go into the interview prepared to answer this question, as it’s asked very frequently. At times, it’s also asked “what could you have done better in that position or situation?”


“I don’t have any questions.”

If you don’t have any, it tells the employer than you’re not very interested in the position or, just as bad, you weren’t listening to their comments during the interview. Show that that you’ve done your homework about the company and position. Have questions prepared. These may include wanting to know more about the details of the job, the department you’ll be working in, your prospective supervisor’s management style, and the culture of the organization.


“What benefits do you offer?”

Honestly, getting the job! If you’re fortunate enough to make it to the next round of interviews, you should keep questions about compensation and benefits for then. At this stage, your questions should center around the job itself and the organization.



“How long until I get a promotion?”

It’s good to have interest in advancement, but let your actions and successes as a staff member illustrate your desire to move up in the company. You won’t want to come off as entitled or ready to leave behind a job you don’t even have yet.


It shouldn’t be difficult to follow these guidelines. Just accept the fact that you’ll be on the receiving end of an endless line of questions. If you walk into the interview prepared, you can make sure you know what right things to say, and you can stop yourself from saying the wrong things.