What Not To Say During Your Next Job Interview

If you’ve been navigating through the job market for any length of time, you are well aware of how important it is to present yourself in the what-not-to-say-on-an-interview-professionals-at-tablebest possible light during a job interview.  Although even amidst the best of intentions, there is always the possibility that even a slight margin of error within our choice of words could cost us a job opportunity.  Chances are, you’ve expended a great deal of time and effort choosing the right responses and questions, but how much time have you spent researching what you should specifically avoid saying to an interviewer?

Your goal is to ensure that your prospective employer will remember you for your invaluable skills and winning personality, rather than any (completely avoidable) verbal blunders. Here are five of the most important statements (and questions) to steer clear of on your next job interview.

1.  “You can find it on my resume.”

If your interviewer feels that a question regarding a portion of your skill set, work experience, or education, etc. is important enough to discuss face to face, you can be assured it’s an important part of the job you’re interviewing for.  Be ready to verbally elaborate on aspects of your resume on the spot, and never refer your interviewer back to the page it’s written on.  Besides looking to learn more about your skills as they directly relate to the position, he or she is also observing your overall communication and articulation skills. Use this opportunity to show your interviewer that you are so much more than a just summary of your past job duties.

 2.  “What does your company do?”

One of the most prominent rules in preparing for a job interview is to research the company with which you’re seeking employment.  Luckily, some dedicated online investigating is really all it takes.  To go the extra mile, some extra networking inquiries can also help you glean more background on the company you have in mind.  However you choose to go about it, the one thing that cannot be argued is that it is really quite undeniably simple.  What’s more, employers know this; so asking such a basic question as “What does your company do?” shows an unfortunate lack of preparation on your end.  While there is always more to learn about an organization, a savvy candidate knows the basics of the company before he or she walk into the interview and is ready to appropriately present this knowledge.

3.  “My last company (or boss) was terrible.”

Any negative adjective at the end of that statement will still be equally as detrimental to the outcome of your interview.  While expressing thatwhat-not-to-say-on-an-interview-graphic you are looking to improve or build upon your prior experience or advance within your career is perfectly fine, directly disparaging or criticizing a former employer is never a good idea, whether it’s the company as a whole or just the individual for whom you directly worked.  While your friends and family may understand, speaking negatively about your prior place of employment during an interview-setting actually reflects more negatively upon you than the company you’re describing. If your last job was in fact a negative experience, try to at least keep your statements as neutral as possible, focusing mostly on the skills and expertise you developed and acquired while there.  Maintaining concentration on what you learned and how you grew within your position and field will help the interviewer understand your role with your previous employer, while reducing the need for you to elaborate on the company itself or its employees.   If your interviewer directly asks why you left your prior job, try simply expressing that while you respected the company for its decisions and understood their needs, you feel you would like to search for a better fit and opportunity.

4.  “What is your vacation/personal-day policy?”

Of course, we all want to work for an employer with reasonable, if not exceptional, paid-time-off policies, but unless the interviewer chooses to offer this information on his or her own accord (which is unlikely during a first interview), refrain from asking this question.  Considering all of the preliminaries to be discovered and understood on a first interview, advising your prospective employer that your next batch of days off is first and foremost in your mind may indicate that this job would possibly not be your first priority, or perhaps you are simply one to take off from work frequently.  It’s unlikely and rare that a quality organization would not have some type of paid-time-off allowances.  However, if there are personal reasons that make this an especially important issue for you, research ahead of time to find out if the company is considered a “family friendly” organization.  Otherwise, save this question for your last interview when you’ve sealed the deal, or perhaps for when you meet with HR, provided the information hasn’t already been presented to you.

5.  “I have a lot going on at home.”

This, or any statement, for that matter, that involves or describes difficult personal issues or challenges you are experiencing in your non-professional life, should be avoided.  While your interviewer may be sympathetic on a human level, it prompts the notion that you may be sidetracked or overwhelmed enough to not perform at your best working capacity, or that perhaps your personal challenges may even cut into the hours at your job.  Even if you actually are an extremely focused worker and none of these speculations are accurate, going into detail about your personal struggles is still enough to trigger some red flags in the mind of your interviewer.

The best advice:  When in doubt, keep it professional and be prepared!

Fred Coon, CEO


Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200


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