What you say in an interview and the body language you use are two essential parts of selling yourself to get the job. But what you don’t say can be just as important. Hiring managers are practiced at spotting red flags in the language candidates use and the sentiments they express. The following list of things you should never say in an interview include many of the most common such warnings that interviewees often let slip.


Avoid Saying These in a Job Interview

  1. Curse words. It should go without saying, but just in case: Don’t swear in an interview, or even use “lighter” terms that many people still consider crude.
  1. “What do you do here?” Interviewers want to see that you’ve already taken an interest in the company and done your research. Asking questions like this that demonstrate you’ve come to the meeting fairly clueless are one of the fastest ways to get ruled out for an opportunity.
  1. “I need the money.” It’s one of the worst possible answers to “Why do you want this job?” but you might be surprised how often people say it. Employers look for candidates who want to be with the company—not ones who are just desperate for income. This question comes up in almost every interview, so have a strong answer ready that demonstrates you understand what the job and the company are about, and that you’ll excel with enthusiasm.
  1. “I know I don’t have experience…” Sometimes you go for a job that’s a bit of a reach. But just because you don’t have experience in the industry or field, that doesn’t mean you don’t have relevant experience using skills you’ll need to succeed in the job. Find ways to frame what you have done to fit the demands of the position.
  1. “I hated my last job/boss.” While this is sometimes the case, you can’t say it. And rest assured, many interviewers try to bait you into ranting about previous positions or bosses. To a hiring manger, this indicates a strong negative streak, an inability to find positives in any situation, difficulty getting along with others, and a willingness to badmouth your employers.
  1. “What are the perks?” This sort of inquiry casts you as someone who’s just there for self-interest, rather than someone looking to enter into a mutually beneficial situation that allows you and the company to grow together.
  1. When do I get a raise/promotion?” Similar to the previous entry, this focuses too much on what’s in it for you. It also comes across as entitlement, and that you may think you’re too good for the position/pay you’re applying to get. Beyond that, the interviewer will assume you won’t be content in the job you’re seeking at the moment.
  1. “I’m exhausted.” Whether in response to opening small talk, or as part of your discussion about where you are in your life, don’t make complaints like this. Always keep things positive, and don’t make yourself sound like a complainer, someone who doesn’t handle stress well, someone with an aversion to a lot of work, someone who often doesn’t feel well, etc.
  1. “I don’t know.” You may not have an answer ready to go for every question, and that’s OK. Interviewers are happy to see you pause and think to give a good response. They’re not so happy to see that you’re unwilling to even try.
  1. “I don’t have any questions.” Expect to be asked whether you have any questions at the end of the interview. And the correct answer is always yes. Otherwise, you seem uninterested in the job and the company. Go in prepared with some questions about how things work and how you’ll best be able to succeed; if they’re answered in the course of the interview, come up with at least one or two new ones.

Looking for the next step in your career?

Take a look at all the job opportunities available through SRI.