job interview mistake

8 Things Not to Say during a Job Interview

The goal of your job interview is to convey to the hiring manager that you’re the best person for the job. Regardless of your skills, personality and experience, the things you actually say during your interview could either make or break your candidacy for the opportunity. You want to be remembered as the most professional and qualified candidate, so avoid these eight slip-ups that rub interviewers the wrong way:

Swear Words

Swear words have a nasty habit of slipping into conversations, but do your best to avoid uttering one. Nothing looks more unprofessional than a swearing job candidate.

Clichés, Buzzwords or Jargon

Clichés, buzzwords and jargon are next to meaningless to your hiring manager, because these phrases are either overused or your hiring manager has no idea what you’re talking about. Just talk about your real experience with detailed examples; don’t overdo it with seemingly “fancy” language.

Negative Remarks about Former Employer

Other than swearing, what’s another mark of an unprofessional job candidate? Someone who trash talks former employers. If you did not like your previous job, still keep your tone positive, or neutral at the very least.

Anything that Makes You Look Unprepared

Every job candidate is expected to research the company before an interview, and if you’re someone who takes that seriously and puts in a lot of effort, don’t spoil it by asking obvious questions. A good rule of thumb is if you could learn about something on a company website, don’t ask about it during an interview. You don’t want your hiring manager to think you’re unprepared!

Humblebrags

What’s a humblebrag? It’s showing fake modesty when really talking yourself up. Example: “My biggest weakness is that I’m a perfectionist!” *Eye roll*

Humblebrags are annoying to interviewers. Yes, you want to speak positively during your interview, but you still need to be genuine.

Brag-Brags

Additionally, interviews are an opportunity to “sell yourself” as the best candidate for the role, not to brag about every achievement. Only speak about your accomplishments when they’re appropriate or relevant during the interview; don’t plug them in everywhere.

Filler Words

We all have been guilty of using filler words, such as “um” or “like.” Drastically limit your use of these words during your job interview, as they can make you seem unprofessional and unprepared.

“No, I don’t have any questions.”

Always have questions for your interviewer. Period. Not asking questions makes you seem disinterested and disengaged.

All of these mistakes are easy to avoid with a little job interview preparation. So not only should you keep these in mind, you should find a trusted friend or mentor and hold practice interviews to build up your confidence.

Have a tip or additional advice? Leave us a comment!

156 thoughts on “8 Things Not to Say during a Job Interview

  1. I would also add another “no, no” during an interview; slouching. Posture is important; sit up straight. And if you must yawn, cover your mouth and turn your face away from the interviewer.

  2. Also want to add here is, don’t get flowed into the stream of questions from your employer as you focus on giving an impressive answer sometimes it may put you on another track of questions. Try to end the answer in a way that the next question should come through the eagerness to know more about the last answer. That way you can control your flow. This applies only where the interviewer has not come up with a set of pre-selected questions!!

  3. Giving yourself time to answer a question, speaking clearly and confidently and keeping eye contact is important.

    • I have a question about eye contact? Yes, eye contact is vitally important, the question I have is this, I have an eye condition that I wear really dark (like Stevie Wonder dark) eye glasses. These are special prescription eye glasses I wear full time since I was a child. In no way does this affect my work. But I have found in interview situation that the person conducting the interview is really bothered by this. This has kept me from getting the job on many occasions. I usually start any interview with an explanation of my eye condition and the reason for the very dark glasses. So far it really has not seemed to help very much… Any advice would be appreciated.

      Stephanie L. Funk

      • Hi Stephanie,

        Sorry to hear about your interview experience! That has to be tough. I personally think explaining in the beginning of the interview is the best route to go, as I hope most interviewers would be understanding. Best wishes!

      • Miss Funk, I agree that an explanation definitely helps. But being that the eyes are such an active part of conversational interaction, perhaps it would help to maybe “compensate” for the eye contact instead of pointing your glasses at the interviewer more often, or for longer periods. Try using your hands more, and other expressive subtleties when you converse. This shows an active mental process to your thought-speech coherency. For example, be expressive with your eyeBROWS and smile/nod when appropriate, but break eye contact to “look around” in thought, (while thinking of your reply, or even after you’ve begun your response) then come back to their eyes to punctuate your statement. Showing, with your outward expression, an active intellectual cadence is key. I hope this helps!!

  4. I want to understand when your resume is getting yoy the interview and you complete the hiring procee. Why does the employer notify the person if they got the job? How long should you hold out to realize you did not get the position?

    • Hi Vinnie!

      Great question. I would typically ask for a timeline for the hiring decision. I would then wait a few days to follow up after the date the interviewer would give me. Unfortunately, some employers simply never get back to you if you weren’t selected. It stinks (I’ve been through it myself!), but do you best to move on and focus on a different job you’re applying to.

  5. Always look your interviewer in the eye, do not stair, but look forward, not down at the table our up at the ceiling. Looking at your interviewers eyes shows you are interested and intent.

  6. I love your list! I also want to add some tips…Arrive 15-30 minutes earlier than your interview time, keep your phone on silent and in your purse or pocket, dress professional (Avoid wearing bright colors, neutral colors are best!), no gum chewing, and ask for their business card or work email so that you can send a follow up email thanking them for the opportunity of interviewing with them.

  7. You should never say I need, never make the job all about you. The interview time is all about what the organization’s needs, and what you can bring to the table on fulfilling their needs.

  8. Hi guys, I think it’s important maintain good eye contact during the interview and make sure cell phone is turned off.

  9. Make sure you have a nice firm handshake. It really does say a lot about a person. Besides appearance, it’s the first thing I notice about someone.

        • I never had any problem to get hired, but since I reach the age of 58 I am going for interview very well dressed and comfortable, but always I received an email thanks for coming we got another candidate good luck. I think I am overqualified or I am old, then I decided to update myself which is I went back to school and get associate degree in Health Information Management. I am worried about my retirement time thanks God I am very active and healthy person. Thanks for tips and advices.

  10. Always look your interviewer in the eye, do not stair, but look forward, not down at the table our up at the ceiling. Looking at your interviewers eyes shows you are interested and intent.

  11. Great tips, thank you, If, I may, let me add:
    1- Always have the name of the person you have interview with, and his telephone number and any extension if there is one, handy going to the interview, and present the name of the interviewer to the receptionist upon arival. Also, ask for parking information ahead of time. This may save you from running late to your interview.
    2. You must know that every receptionist is a part of the interviewers and report your interaction to the team. Be very nice to him/her.
    3. Always be properly and professionally dressed, well groomed and wear a nice mild perfume.
    4. Always take a nice looking working pen and a professional note book with you to take note if necessary, don’t ask for a paper and pen.
    5. Have a firm hand shake when hand shake is offered.
    6. Have your professional card ready and give one to all participant interviewers.
    7. Start the interview with thanking the interviewers for giving you the opportunity to meet with them.
    8. Always, at the beginning ask for how much time do we have for the interview. This convey two gestures: One, you are concern about their time, not to over run their time, two, you want to properly space your reply to their questions.
    9. Even, you may already know about the job, but it is always a good idea to ask the interviewers about the job duties, responsibilities, and potential for promotion. This convey that you are looking for advancement in the career rather than just a job.
    10. Always reply with a phrase like that is a great question, I am glad that you asked, thanks, and so on
    11. Sometimes it is better to elaborate on what he/she said, such as: please correct me if I am wrong, if I understand you correctly you said, …..
    12. Make sure that you check and read the company mission, vision and values in details, and relate that to your personal values and mission for life. If you do not have a mission for life, please start something right now, for example, in my e-mail, I have written my mission for life as a note at the bottom. I can state that, I reviewed your company’s mission and values carefully, I found that it perfectly matches with my personal mission of life and my values as I have stated in my e-mail. Be broad and general in that statement. It shows that you are a person with idea, creativity, and direction in your life.
    13. Take your certificates and any award or volunteer work documents, and in a right time, ask them, if they may be interested in seeing your documents.
    14. Depend on circumstance, usually it may be ok, to ask. For example, after the interview is closed, you may say something like: Will be Ok if I ask a final question? after they allowed, you may say. I know it may be too early to ask, however, as I am very anxious to know how well did I do in my interview comparing with others? They may not reply, if they do, it may be to your advantage to keep that in mind in your follow up.
    15. Last, but not the least, do not forget to thank the receptionist for her help. This may be a determining gustier in your selection.

      • I have actually been told to not wear perfume or for guys to not wear cologne because you do not know if the interviewer has allergies or sensitivities to scents, perfumes and such and that could make it hard for them to be in that space with you. I have perfume and scent sensitivities and get an instant headache, throat gets tight, etc around some perfumes, scents and colognes and it is a huge turnoff to be feeling ok and good to go to like that in a minute! I love the no scent work places a lot! Think of it this way..if your interviewer has that problem like I do..they will remember you but not in a good way. Probably won’t get you hired coming to an interview smelling of perfume or cologne or even cigarette smoke for that matter!

    • NO perfume. Some people (including my entire family) are highly allergic to perfume. Even some deodorant is too strong. I have never read or heard anything suggesting you wear perfume. Every recruiter I have ever spoken to specifically said not to wear any perfume/cologne. The focus should be on you, not how you smell

  12. This information has all been informative but let’s not forget the firm handshake before and after the interview. Keeping in mind the firmness of the handshake of the interviewer as well, it speaks volumes.

    • So in keeping in mind of the handshake the interview gives you..what happens when you find its limp and lifeless and your afraid your firm handshake your giving will break their hand so to speak? What should we consider when the interview gives a limp and lifeless handshake? Or does not at all offer a handshake?

      • Hi Traci!

        That’s tough. As the interviewee, I would often extend my hand first, thus avoiding the awkwardness if the interviewer did not reach out. As for the firmness, I would just focus on your own end of the handshake.

  13. Be genuine ! Don’t lie to make yourself look better answer questions to the best of your ability not what others want to hear

  14. Great tips. I would like to add that it is alright to disagree with the panel, but your tone and language should be soft and polite. You must support your disagreement with valid and authentic points.

  15. “Be Yourself”… ” Wow them”.They want to be able to see if you will fit in. There are a lot of people qualified for the position. So leave a good impression ….Most Important!

  16. Show them your personality …it works for ME every time!!! Like I said above there are over 200 people qualified for the position…give them something XTRA! Trust me you will get the call back…HIRED!

  17. Confidence in yourself is important. I interview for technical positions and the basic presence of the individual affects my opinion of their competency. Today we need self-starters who can take the ball and run. If you appear to be a person who will constantly ask questions about an assignment and are afraid of making a mistakes I don’t need you.

  18. I recently had a job interview and got the job offer. However, the question of why u left your recent job is always uncomfortable. This was my answer. I am no longer a fit with there work culture so i resign or you can say I am not a fit with the new management on board or I am seeking a new challenge or I am planning to attend school soon.

      • So on that question why did you leave your last job…it is ok to admit that you didn’t feel you were a good fit for the job or the department? It won’t make them go oh well will she fit in here then?? Get what I am getting at here?

        • Hi Traci!

          Yes, I understand. If phrased like that, I think it’s ok and the interviewer would not have a bad impression. However, I would leave it at that and not go on about the situation. If the interviewer asks more, you may elaborate, but keep it short and professional on your end. Does that clarify?

  19. Only offer or provide information relative to your ability to do the job. It is illegal for interviewers to ask questions about age, marital status, parental status, etc., but many do because they haven’t been trained properly. If asked, remain positive and ask if the information is needed to make a decision about your candidacy. When they say no (hoping they do), smile and say you would prefer to keep those details private for now. This might be a good time to go right into one of your questions to steer the interview back on the right path so things don’t feel awkward. The only exception to this rule would be any personal details on your resume such as hobbies, school aftended, etc. which are fair game so be careful what you include in your resume!

    This is tricky because interviewers, in addition to assessing qualifications, are also gauging fit with their culture so it becomes a conversation art form to give them enough to show your personality as well as your qualifications.

    • Hi Kim!

      That is great insight! Yes, you may at some time come across a hiring manager who was not trained well enough in questions not to ask. Your strategy in that situation is spot on. Thanks so much for bringing that up!

  20. I have had an interview a few weeks ago. I had a few questions during interview and they said they would let me know bone way or the other after the New Gears holiday. But still haven’t heard back. Should I email them and ask?

  21. Sorry, I meant “one way other the other”.
    I also have resume questions. Should I direct them here? Or where can I get answers for my resume?

  22. The only issue I face all the time is that each employer wants you available 24/7 for his part time job only,and will never understand that you need a fixed schedule to have another job. Of course no full time jobs :)

  23. Kaitlin,

    I love my job, however, I am currently looking because my salary is too low, they don’t give raises, no 401k and no opportunity for more responsibility or advancement. I want to be completely honest while interviewing, so when asked why am I leaving my current position is it okay to state the reasons above? How can I put a positive spin on it?

    • Hi Vee!

      I would probably say just that – you love the position, but your needs changed. I wouldn’t elaborate much more. Just keep it short and professional; the interviewer might be more understanding than you think!

  24. Always have at least 2 questions to ask about the company or the interviewers career path with the company. If you don’t understand the question don’t be afraid to ask for clarification before answering it the wrong way.

  25. I always send a thank you card after an interview. It is a good idea to ask for a business card, if one is not given to you.
    I do have a question.. How long should one wait to call back to a business after an interview? Also, if your interviewer states they will call you back either way.. Does that mean you should not call them back?

    • Hi Claudine!

      It depends for both your questions (sorry I don’t have a more concrete answer!). 1.5-2 weeks after is a pretty good length. However, the best way to go about follow up is to ask the interviewer (during the interview) when he/she plans to make a decision. Then follow up a couple days after that date.

  26. Hi there Kaitlin Nickrent. I find it pretty commendable that you actually took the time to respond to each and everyone here! I really wanted you get feedback from a stranger. Thank you very much.
    Dr. Tajuddin Millatmal, I found your post most insightful. How gracious of you to share those pointers with the world. I took a screenshot of that excellent post, and intend to study and share it with my world.
    All the best to all the job seekers out there! Stay encouraged and informed.

  27. As I read this , I noticed that I do some of these things. It took me two years to find a new hob when the company I worked for folded. Finding a new job is frustrating. I had to go back to school and get my degree, it was expensive and time consuming. I will be graduating in 8 months and it is the smartest thing I ever did. Will I be able to find a job at my age?

    • Hi Pandora!

      Thanks for your comment. Furthering your education was a great move – no education is ever wasted! I believe it will help you in your job search.

      If you would like help from Medix for your job search, please send us a note via the link below. Within your note, please let us know what kind of job you’re looking for and where you’re searching. I’ll then pass it on to a recruiter.

      http://www.medixteam.com/contact-us-talent/

      Thanks!

  28. If the company you are interviewing with sends you a confirmation email regarding your interview go on write the information down just in case something happens with your email. And if they give you directions try to locate them right away, again, just in case something goes wrong and you cannot access that email.

  29. I appreciate all of the tips and advice; very helpful. I’m 50+ and lost my job in 2012 but have not been able to rebound successfully so far. I transitioned into insurance sales, but this has been a very slow process because of steep learning curves, almost nil income, etc. Maybe something part-time to help me out while I build my clientele would certainly help me out a great deal.

  30. I’ve had several temporary positions, where I was let go. How do I explain that other than the assignment was completed? or Personal reasons?

  31. I know you should always ask a question when an interviewer asks if you have any questions…are there any good questions to ask at that point?

    • Hi Janice!

      If that is the best time for them to interview, I would just roll with it. You might find a lunchtime interview less formal/intimidating and more relaxed! However, I would definitely not order an alcoholic beverage, even if the interviewers order one.

      Thanks!

  32. 1 Just be yourself and don’t try to impress. The interviewer might have a lot more impressive achievement than you have and go BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! in his little head as you try to impress him
    2. Forget about what the company has to offer you and focus on being interested in what the company has to offer its customers. For example, some manager would spend a good deal of time talking about the benefits the company has to offer even when they don’t intend to offer you the job. Just say “seems like a company that cares about it’s employees. Period!

  33. If “You Must Yawn”!! Lol! You better Stifle it with every power you can draw from!

    Be Yourself, be honest, open, engaging, eye-contact but not “too” much.

  34. The best follow up question at the end of an interview is “what would make one successful in this position?” every time I’ve ever use this question I’ve been complimented by the employer or interviewer and told me it was a very good question and one of the best they’ve ever heard so when in doubt always mention that question that I guarantee will make a comment complimenting you on what a wonderful question

  35. I have to disagree with arriving 15-30 minutes early. You may not want to do that as it may show desperation. 10 minutes is sufficient time. Also i would never ever start an interview off with how much time we have for this interview.. Depending on the interviewer, it may set an unintentional tone that you are rushing them or have some thing else to do

    • Hi Rosy!

      Yes, avoid checking into an interview more than 10 minutes early. You bring up a good point about asking for the time frame! That could definitely rub the interviewer the wrong way.

      Thanks!

  36. Make sure that you have not misspelled common words – not only in your resume or cover letter, but also – when writing answers during a quiz or assessment… words like “stare” (not “stair”) “their’ (or “there” or “they’re”, as applicable), or any of the “would’ve”/”could’ve”/”should’ve” variations (NOT as “_ould of”!).

  37. Great comments, but so many interviews are conducted by phone! You are NOW, in 2016, selling yourself electronically and on the phone.

  38. Don’t be afraid to talk about your accomplishments. Speak about specific talents you possess that arent listed on your resume. During the course of an interview, hiring managers often tell you about certain unusual aspects of the position. If you have experience doing that unusual thing, by all means let them know.

  39. I always end my interviews with these simple tips .
    Ask are there any other locations .
    What is the growth potential in the company
    Who would be the prefect candidate for this position
    Then explain why you would be the prefect candidate
    Last but not least you want to know whats next so you
    can ask politely, What is the next step.
    you always what to have at least four or five questions
    when they ask you that famous question.
    Do you have any questions ,its famous because if you
    don’t guess where your application going in the trash
    That’s Rhetorik!

  40. I struggle with a couple major things in the interview process. For background info, I’m a single mom. My kids are very different ages and very busy. Therefore, I’m exhausted and unable to be challenged too much at work because when the workday is over I’m needed for mom duty. I always get interviews because I am extremely qualified for the jobs I apply for. I take into consideration how much energy will be required to get the work done well and still have enough energy for my kids after work.
    However, I’m usually passed over in the final decision when it’s between me and another candidate and told it’s because they are afraid I’ll get bored because I’m over qualified. Unfortunately, you’re unable to discuss your personal life and I don’t know how to overcome the issue. Any suggestions?
    Also, I’m not able to answer the question, “why should we hire you rather than the other candidates we’re interviewing?” Personally, I think that’s impossible to answer when you’re at such a disadvantage not knowing the competition and I feel like I’m being asked to point out my strengths vs their flaws which is just rude even if I did know them. I believe in building people up not kicking them down. So I know any answer I’ve ever given has been weak and I’d like to be able to answer with confidence providing them with a solid reason or two while also showing how I feel the question to be rude asking one to tear down others you don’t even know. Any help here?

    • Hi Lin,

      Thanks for your comment! These are great questions.

      For the first question, you’re right. You cannot really bring up personal issues during a job interview. That’s a tough situation, and I’m afraid I don’t really have an answer for the best way to handle it. If you would like to work with one of our recruiters for some coaching or help finding positions you’d be interested in, please write me a note through our contact form, and I will pass it along to a recruiter: http://www.medixteam.com/contact-us-talent/

      For your second question, I would just focus on my own strengths. You’re right; you don’t know the other candidates, so don’t worry about them. Just worry about positioning yourself as the best person for the role!

      Thanks!

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