A large part of interview prep involves making sure you say the right things. You need to paint yourself in the best possible light by highlighting your strengths, skills and character.
But there are some things that you should never say in an job interview. They might seem like unimportant comments, or even positive things, but don't be fooled! You may ruin your chances of securing the job you want if you fall into the trap of saying the following things…
"My current company is awful"
As we mentioned in our article on hard interview questions, talking about your current employer in a negative way may backfire on you. Hiring managers are looking for people with a positive and constructive attitude. If the only things you have to say about your current employer are negative and dismissive, you're painting yourself as a negative person.
Be constructive and diplomatic about your current company, instead. Or, if you really can't think of anything nice to say about the company at large, focus on your specific role and talk about that.
"How much does this job pay?"
Discussing salary can be a tricky subject to approach. It's important not to appear to be solely focused on the money. Particularly in tech, hiring managers are looking for people with a passion for what they do and not just working for a pay cheque. As a general rule, the best thing to do is to wait for the interviewer to bring up the question of salary.
"I don’t know"
Saying this in an interview usually indicates that you didn't prepare well enough. To an interviewer, this demonstrates to them that you aren't great at preparing. It also indicates that you can't think quickly under pressure.
Some people use "I don't know" as a filler when organising their thoughts before answering. If you need time to think before answering a question, rather than saying: "I don't know… I suppose what I would do is…", instead repeat the question. "How would I solve this problem? I suppose what I would do is…" This allows you to buy time while your brain gets organised without making you sound like you don't know the answer.
"I don’t have any questions"
At the end of an interview, there is a strong chance that you'll be asked if you have any other questions. Having something to ask makes you seem engaged with the business and interested in the work. This positive attitude may serve you well when the hiring manager comes to choose their candidate.
To help you out, here are 6 great questions to ask at the end of an interview.
- Who would I be reporting to?
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
- How has this position evolved?
- Who do you consider your major competitors? How are you better?
- What do you like most about working for this company?
- Will I have an opportunity to meet those who would be part of my tesm/my manager during the interview process?
These questions help you understand what is come in terms of the interview process and shows that you are engaged and interested in the business. Asking a personal question to the interviewer, like "What do you like most about working here?" helps build up a rapport with them.
"I was top ADC on my team"
Unless you're absolutely sure that the person interviewing you is familiar with acronyms, avoid them wherever possible. You need to be articulating yourself in a way that is clear and easy to understand. Jargon only gets in the way and can interrupt your flow. Follow the lead from your interviewer. If they don't use acronyms, be sure to use the full names for things.
This is particularly relevant for tech roles. Sometimes, the hiring manager isn't the one with technical expertise. After all, that's what they are hiring for! They may have a technical person in the room as well, but even if they do, pitch to the lowest common denominator in the room until you're sure everyone understands what you are talking about.
It is possible to demonstrate your technical expertise without bamboozling people with acronyms and jargon.
"I can do anything"
This statement is irrelevant at best and problematic at worst. No one can really do anything, so this is a dismissive and arrogant statement. In tech, businesses are crying out for specialists. By all means discuss your soft skills and your transferable skills, but be specific about what you can do.
"I think outside the box"
This is another one of those statements that is irrelevant to many hiring managers. Instead of saying that you think outside the box, show them. Demonstrate a situation where your innovative thinking solved a problem or achieved a goal. Don't just say you can do something, give people examples and a context. That is what gives weight to your statements.
"What does this company?"
This is an inexcusable thing to say and makes you seem indifferent and aloof towards the business. If you're a contractor working on a project that involves one tiny facet of the business as a whole, it can be easy to disregard the big picture. But from the perspective of the hiring manager, this puts you in a negative light. Do your research, know who you're working for and understand what they do.
You are being judged from the second you arrive at your job interview. What you do and what you say can have a huge impact on whether the interview is a success or a failure. But remember your interview preparation, avoid saying these things and you'll do great!