7 Things To Never Say During A Job Interview
Even if you’re sitting at a table drinking coffee together, a job interview is not a friend-to-friend talk. The interviewer is there to determine if you’re a good fit for the company and the position. You’re there to determine if the company is a good fit for you. Especially in an early round discussion, this is not the time to say everything on your mind. Here are some comments to skip or at least save until later in the process.
1. My last boss was awful
This is number one. Even if your former boss could win a national Worst Boss contest, saying so to an interviewer reflects badly…on you.
“As a recruiter or hiring manager, I don’t want to hear you talk negative about your former employer or manager whether you mention their name or not,” says K.J. Proctor, executive headhunter with John H. Proctor & Associates. “If you’re coming in with that attitude, I know you’re going to bring it with you. I hear the critiquing and negativity and I’m not going to hire you.”
Criticizing your former boss shows you may have a problem with authority, says Toby Haberkorn, executive search consultant and co-author of "Best Job Search Tips for Age 60-Plus." “There are two sides to every story. No one is looking for a problem.”
If the interviewer asks why you left your job, be diplomatic and vague. You might cite differences of opinion in leadership styles.
2. Show me the money
Asking about salary too early in the interview process signals you’re only interested in the pay—not about fitting into the company and how you can add value. “You’re not showing enough interest in the job,” Haberkorn says. “The employer first wants to have a good understanding that you can do the job. Once you’re seen as a serious candidate, the employer will bring it up.”
After several interviews, if the employer doesn’t bring up pay, you can certainly ask what the budget or range is for the position. Do your homework so you know what other companies are paying.
3. How about vacation?
How much personal leave do I get? Asking about vacation, sick leave, personal leave or comp time during an early interview signals you care more about your time off than time working. The time to ask about vacation, sick leave and other benefits is after the company offers you the job, Proctor says. Ask too early and you won’t get an offer.
“When you’re in a high-powered company working as a team, you don’t want two or three whose major focus in ‘How many days do I get off per month,’” Proctor says. “The running joke used to be, ‘I come here for my check and you expect me to work?’”
4. Life is tough
I’m going through a divorce. I’m having a tough custody battle. I have to put my dad in a nursing home. “It’s surprising how many people will say these things in a job interview,” Haberkorn says. “It’s such a strong component of what’s going on in their lives, they just let it out without thinking. Employers won’t hire someone who they see as having personal problems that will interfere with work.” Make arrangements for backup to handle those situations and certainly don’t bring them up during the interview process.
5. I never…
Any comment that starts, “I never” reflects poorly on you. I never make coffee. I never travel. I never work over the weekend. “If you know there are some things you can’t bend on, then do your due diligence before the interview,” Proctor says.
6. Nope, no questions
When a potential employer asks if you have any questions for her and your answer is, “no,” that sends a bad message. “This shows you don’t have serious interest in the job and that you haven’t done any research about the company or job,” Haberkorn says. “The interviewer may wonder about your commitment to the position being offered. There’s a type of person who likes to get interview practice. If you don’t have any questions, the interviewer will think you’re just interviewing for practice.”
7. I have a side gig
Whether it’s selling cosmetics, personal training, selling on eBay or some other side hustle, the interviewer does not want to know you have a side gig. The employer will wonder about your commitment to the job and whether you’ll use company resources to support your other business, Haberkorn says. If the only business cards you have are for the side gig, get some more made before the interview.
The bottom line: Certainly ask relevant questions about the company and the industry. But if you’re wondering whether you should bring up something personal during the interview, the answer is probably no. Silence is golden.