10 Phrases to Never Say During a Job Interview

There’s a lot to think about when preparing for a job interview: What you should wear, what questions you should expect, how you can best show your qualifications. Just as important as what you should do, however, is what you shouldn’t—namely, things you should never say during an interview. Read on for what (and why) some phrases are verboten.

never say job interview

1. “What does your company do?”

Don’t ever walk into an interview without a very clear understanding of the company’s function. Not knowing makes you look lazy, as if you couldn’t be bothered with doing research about the company before you walked in the door.

2. “I’m really nervous.”

Honesty in interviews is generally a great policy…except when it comes to admitting you’re nervous. Most people are at least a little anxious—it’s a nerve-wracking experience after all—but telling your interviewer comes across as insecure and juvenile. This is where the phrase “fake it till you make it” comes in handy. Pretend you’re confident, and you’ll come across as confident.

3. “I know I don’t have much experience, but…”

If you really don’t have much experience in terms of the job you’re hoping to land, there’s no need to say it—your interviewer has presumably read your resume and will pick up on that. What you should do is draw the attention to the areas in which you are experienced, and verbalize how the skills you possess will translate to the job you want.

4. “[Insert positive, desirable attribute here] is my greatest weakness.”

Saying “always being on time” or “working too hard” is a clear humblebrag your recruiter has heard a thousand times before and, more importantly, knows isn’t true. He or she will also know that by answering this way, you’re simply sidestepping the question. It’s much better to actually come up with a weakness…and then discuss how you’re in the process of overcoming it.

5. “I have no idea.”

If the recruiter asks you a question you genuinely don’t know the answer to, it’s much better to deflect with, “That’s a good question. Let me think about that.” Then take a few seconds (just enough to gather your thoughts) and answer to the best of your ability.

6. “How soon do you promote employees?”

Asking anything that makes it seem like you’re assuming you’ve already gotten the job comes across as arrogant. And questions about promotions in particular makes it sound like you’re not interested in the position for which you’re actually interviewing.

7. “I’m hoping to start my own business.”

Ambition can be a great thing, and employers want to know that you have it. But if that ambition includes leaving the place you haven’t even started working at yet, it will prove to be more of a roadblock than anything else. File this piece of information into the “oversharing” category and leave it be.

8. “Let me silence my phone.”

Anything that draws attention to your phone—including it ringing/vibrating or *cringe* answering it—during your interview is a bad thing. Before the interview starts, make sure it’s on silent (not vibrate) and put away in a place where you can’t see it if it lights up.

9. “I’m a team player.”

Well, one would hope so. That’s kind of a given for most jobs these days and, as a result, saying so simply comes across as clichéd and redundant.

10. “I think outside the box.”

“I think outside the box” is another overused phrase that needs to be retired. If you say this in an interview, you’re clearly not thinking outside the box, and it shows.

There’s no doubt job interviews can be stressful, but knowing some phrases or ideas that are off limits can help you focus on what really matters: showcasing your unique array of talents and qualifications!

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