While top recruiters will prep you on how to answer questions during an interview, it’s just as important (if not more) to learn what NOT to say during a job interview.
1. Trashing your previous employer
Perhaps one of the most frequently made mistakes, this usually occurs when asked, “Why are you looking for a new position?”. This isn’t the place to air your grievances. Not only does complaining about your boss make it seem like you do not respect your managers, but it is also a missed opportunity to score interview points. When talking about why you are looking for a new job, or your previous work environment, you always want to use positive, future-oriented words like growth, development, new experience, etc.
2. Criticizing the company or interviewer
You may do this without knowing it. For example, the interviewer asks you to describe a project listed on your resume. You respond: “Well I helped design the x program. You probably don’t know that kind of code but…” Inadvertently, you have insulted the interviewer’s intelligence by assuming what they do or do not know.
3. Drawn out personal stories
In general, you should try to keep topics as professional as possible. However, should you find a personal story especially anecdotal to the position you are applying, feel free to use it but keep it short.
4. “You know… Stuff like that…”
Always be specific. Don’t use vague words like, ‘things’ or ‘stuff’. Consider these two answers to the interview question, “What, in your opinion, are the most important traits a marketing professional should exhibit?”
A1: You know… being good at social media and email campaigns and things/stuff like that.
A2: That is a great question. I think first and foremost an exceptional understanding of social media platforms. Additionally, extensive experience with launching email campaigns is a must…
Unless you are applying to work at a politically based or focused organization, like a senator’s office, avoid bringing in your political views.
Unless you are applying to work at a religious organization, like a church, avoid bringing in your religious views.
This includes anything you wouldn’t want to hear from a stranger yourself.
8. “I don’t know”
There is no time when “I don’t know” is the answer. If you are asked anything you truly don’t know, the answer should be something along the lines of, “That is a wonderful question, I will research and get back to you” or “That is something I am interested in learning about.”
9. “I am not sure if this commute/these hours will work for me”
You should be aware of any consequential variables that may prevent you from working at the place you are interviewing before you arrive. This is not the appropriate time to bring this up, when you and the hiring manager have already invested time.
10. “I am not going to have to take a drug test or background check or anything right?”
This question is a major red flag for any interviewer. In the event the company you are interviewing does require a drug or background test, they will let you know before you are scheduled to start. Should this pose a problem to you for any reason, upon their request is when you should notify them if it may be an issue.
For more great tips on interviews and job searching, explore the JSG BLOG.