15 Things Not To Say In A Job Interview


15 Things Not To Say In A Job Interview

When preparing for an interview it’s easy to focus on all the things you want to say to help sell yourself. You’ve learnt your CV off by heart, you’ve got a list of examples that show off your core competencies, and you’ve even done some role-playing with your best friend. You’re confident that you can answer any question that comes your way.

However, you should also think about the things you shouldn’t say in an interview, and this can be a bit more difficult. When you’re interviewing for a startup things may be a lot less formal than in larger companies and in a more laid-back environment, it’s all too easy to let your guard down and say something that could scupper your chances, even if on paper you’re the ideal candidate for the role.

Here are 15 things to avoid saying in a job interview. 


I’m really sorry I’m late

Don’t be late. Enough said.


Sorry, that’s my phone

Turn your phone off completely before you go into an interview. Even if it’s on silent, if it vibrates both you and the interviewer will be distracted. And never, ever be tempted to answer your phone or respond to a message. Unfortunately, the same rules don’t always apply to your interviewer so expect multiple interruptions.


My greatest weakness is I’m a perfectionist

This is used so often it’s become a cliché and the chances are your interviewer will have heard it many times before. It gives little insight into your character and anyway, are you really a perfectionist? The fact that you couldn’t come up with a better answer to a common interview question would imply that you’re not.


What’s your annual leave policy?

A prospective employer doesn’t want to think you are already planning time off before you’ve even got the job. Most companies are clear about how many days leave you are entitled to on the careers section of their website so it also shows that you haven’t done your research. The same goes for asking about sickness policy, duvet days, or Christmas working hours.


What does the role entail?

You should know. It’s why you applied for the job. There is nothing wrong with asking for some specific details about the day-to-day or how success will be measured, for example, but don’t expect your interviewer to waste valuable time going through the whole job spec with you.



Don’t swear in an interview. This can be hard, particularly if you are in a relaxed environment and your interviewer has dropped a few f-bombs. But an interview is not a casual conversation between friends, so it’s not worth taking the risk.


My last company was evil

Do not badmouth your current or former company. You may be unhappy and desperate to leave but keep the answer to why you are leaving positive. Nobody wants to employ a negative person and even if your previous employer was a complete nightmare to work for there’s a risk that your interviewer will think that the problem was with you and not them.


My last boss was evil

As above, do not badmouth your old boss. Again, the interviewer may think that you are the problem, Plus, the world of startups is pretty close-knit. You don’t know that your interviewer doesn’t know your boss and you wouldn’t want the pair of them discussing you over the next FinTech Founders’ Breakfast.


I don’t have much experience

This is an easy mistake to make especially if you are new to the job market or changing careers. By highlighting that you don’t have much experience you’re essentially saying that you’re not a good fit for the role. Think about transferable skills, experience you’ve gained from outside work, and personality traits that make you a great candidate. ‘I’m a really quick learner’ is another no. Your future employer doesn’t want to hire someone who they’ve got to teach to do the job, unless the role is specifically a training role.


I think outside the box

No buzzwords. Interviewers will have heard them all before. Give actual examples of how you thought outside the box.


I delivered strategic and actionable customer-centric engagements through a synergized communication channel

I sent emails. Don’t use abstract words to describe your responsibilities. Speak in plain English and use action words to explain what you do.  


In the first quarter PPC CPC dropped by 18%, CTR increased by 5%, and MAUs increased by 10%

Try not to use too many acronyms, even if they are industry standard, unless you are being interviewed by someone you are sure has a deep understanding of your role. And even then, new acronyms enter the lexicon all the time so don’t be caught out if you are asked to explain what one means. If you are being interviewed by someone from HR or one of the founders, try not to use any acronyms at all. They have their own areas of expertise and are unlikely to know the details of yours.



This can be really hard not to do, but when you are asked about tasks, projects, and achievements you need to make it clear how you specifically contributed, even if you were working as part of a team. Practise beforehand because for a lot of people saying ‘I did this’ can feel quite uncomfortable, particularly if you are a bit shy. 


I want to be sitting where you are

A popular interview question is to ask where candidates see themselves in 5/10 years’ time. Although it may be tempting to show off your lofty ambitions, it can come across as arrogant, cocky, facetious, or even plain rude to say you want your interviewer’s job. Be honest, and use it as an opportunity to show how you want to develop, while also adding value to the company.


No, no more questions

Even if you’ve asked a lot of questions throughout, towards the end of your interview it’s likely that you will be asked if you have any more. Not having any questions at this stage gives the impression that you’re not interested in finding out any more about the company. Prepare a few questions beforehand and keep a couple up your sleeve for the very end.  

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