Words You Should Never Say During an Interview

A guide for what not to say during a job interview.

Preparing for a job interview can be stressful. When you’re setting yourself up to be the best candidate you can be, you typically look for advice on what to do and say during an interview. However, you may not be taking note of the things you should avoid saying. There are certain words and phrases that can trigger a negative reaction from the interviewer—these are the types of sentences you want to avoid completely. The compilation below will help you get a better feel for what you should and shouldn’t talk about.

“What does your company do?”

It’s always good to ask questions during an interview and find out as much as you can about the work environment you are petitioning for. However, you should do your research before the interview. The company wants to know that you are knowledgeable about the company and job you have applied for. If you are asking questions about the company that could easily be found online, they will think you’ve come unprepared.

“I’m a perfectionist.”

One of the most common interview questions centers around asking the interviewee to describe their own weaknesses. Many take this opportunity to try to talk about something good about themselves in a way they could portray as a ” weakness.” You shouldn’t do this. All interviewers know that each candidate has their own, real weakness. Your best bet is to pick a reasonable weakness, and talk about the steps you are currently taking to improve.

“My last boss was horrible.”

Whether you truly believe your last boss was not good at managing, had a horrible temperament, or was incompetent at their job, during an interview is not the time to discuss this. Complaining about your last or current job only reflects badly on you. A good way to talk about your previous work environment is to talk about the challenges you may have faced, and what you did to get around those challenges or improve your working environment.

“I’ll take any job.”

With the current economy and job market, it is true that many job candidates are simply looking for any job where they can earn money. This is not something that should be said during the interview, though. The interviewer wants to know that you want this one job, specifically at their company. Interviewers are looking for candidates that are going to fit in well at the company. In this case, desperation is not appealing.

“I don’t have much experience…”

When you talk about and apologize for the experience you don’t have, you are giving the interviewer a reason not to hire you. Instead of drawing attention to your weaknesses, in this case lack of experience, focus more on how you are a good fit for the job and why you would excel within the company. You could talk about previous skills you have that would be able to transfer into this job.

“I don’t know.”

You should never be left without an answer to a question. While you might practice with mock interviews and go over answers to popular interview questions, you still might come upon that one question that makes you want to scratch your head. There are a couple strategies you could take that give you more time to think out an appropriate answer. For one, you could repeat the question thoughtfully. You could also comment on the quality of the question: “That’s a great question. I would say…” If you still need more time, you could ask for a glass of water or a pen and paper.

“I was fired from my last job.”

If you are asked about your job, you should come right out and talk about being fired. You never want to lie during an interview, but there are more tactful ways to phrase a firing. You may say, “My boss and I didn’t see eye to eye, and we both agreed that I would be happier at another company.” If you are asked about a past job that you were fired from, this is not a question you should dwell on. Give a succinct and truthful answer, and allow the interviewer to move on to other questions.

Michelle Hawley

Michelle Hawley Michelle Hawley is a writer, blogger and Point Park University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. She focuses mainly on career and marketing topics, as well as funny quips about cats. She enjoys writing fictional stories in her free time.

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