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5 Things to NEVER Say at a Job Interview

Interviews give you an opportunity to showcase your abilities and what makes you great, so making a good first impression is crucial.

Here are 5 things you’d want to think twice before saying at your next job interview:

1. “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know”

We all know that we should be doing proper research on the company and role before the job interview.

Research aside, there could be some details we are simply unprepared for. If you do encounter this, don’t get worked up just yet!

Calm down, take a deep breath and paraphrase what the interviewer just asked. The simple act of paraphrasing actually helps you understand what was asked and will also buy you some time to think about your answer. 

Avoid using phrases such as “I don’t know how to answer you” or “I’ve never heard of that.”  Even if you’re unsure of your answer, you’re better off beginning your reply with something like, “I believe…” or “From what I know…”

If you’re asked a problem-solving question (a popular example is “how much time do you think it would take to wash all the windows in the city?”) the interviewer may simply want to see how you arrive at your final answer. Talk through your thought process out loud. You don’t have to come up with the correct answer immediately. 

Tell them what you know with confidence and don’t get too caught up in getting the “correct” answer. They’ll be willing to wait and listen to your response, and will most likely provide you with additional information on top of what you already know. 

More useful tips on answering a question you don’t know in this video:

2. Crude language 

This is pretty self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised how frequently it comes up in job interviews!

Sometimes you meet a friendly interviewer who breaks the ice and makes you feel like you’re talking to a good friend. Being at ease in an interview is important, but don’t let a curse word slip out or risk coming off as rude (and getting rejected immediately).

3. “Sorry, I was late due to [excuse]”

It goes without saying that you should never arrive late for an interview.

But if you do find yourself in the situation, simply apologise by saying, “I apologise for being late, thank you for waiting for me.” Don’t try to shift the blame, justify, or make excuses; the interviewer has probably heard it all so it won’t earn you any sympathy.

The best thing you can do is apologise and acknowledge that you may have caused someone else inconvenience. 

Arriving late or cancelling at the last minute shows a lack of professionalism and responsibility. If there is an emergency (because life happens!), notify them as soon as you can.

4. “I’ll do anything!”

As much as you’re excited to be part of the company, it’s best to have a specific job position in mind and explain why you’re a great fit for it. This not only shows your enthusiasm but also demonstrate to them that you have a clear goal in mind. If the hiring manager is looking to see where you’d fit in their team, this will make it a lot easier for them.

Instead of saying, “I can do anything!”, state your skills specifically and the kind of role that you’d be great for. This type of answer will make you sound professional and intelligent – not desperate. 

Here’s an example answer:

“Due to my experiences and skills in both Graphic Design and Photography, I believe I would fit very well in your Creative Team.”

5. Ranting about your previous employer

Whether or not you had a negative experience with a former employer, it’s best to avoid speaking ill about them. Instead of gaining sympathy, it will only make you look bad. Word gets around especially if you’re in a smaller industry so for the sake of your career, keeping your reputation clean is your best bet.

If you were asked to explain why you left your previous employer, instead of saying, “My previous company was horrible because…”, focus on the lessons you learned from your past experience and new goals you’d like to achieve at this new company

Always bring the conversation back to how you’ll be a good fit for the role and the new employer. The key here is to answer in a way that shows that you look towards a better future, not dwell on the past.

Now that you know what to avoid saying at an interview, here are some questions to avoid asking at all.

Ace your job interviews by asking questions that reveal helpful information as much as they impress employers.