The hiring manager has already sifted through resumes and decided that they want to meet you. Now it’s your turn to make an impression. And, unfortunately for you, every sentence you utter during the job interview is going to be a part of that impression. The best way to prepare for potential embarrassment? Know what’s off limits.
Avoid these 11 statements next time you’re up for a job, and you’ll be well on your way to wowing your interviewer.
“That’s a great question!”
While this phrase may be a great addition to social conversations, it’s not something an interviewer needs to hear. Instead of sounding surprised that the recruiter asked a question, remember that you've prepared for this interview. Plus, the questions they ask are almost always from a pre-set list. Playing the game of flattering your interviewer is tricky, and should be used sparingly. Get straight down to answering their questions.
“What is the title of the role, again?”
Any questions showing your lack of research into the company, the job description, or the industry itself show that you haven’t adequately prepared. Preparing for a job interview is like preparing for a final exam – you need to know your stuff. There’s no doubt it’s important to ask your interviewer questions, but the questions you ask should be targeted towards information you can’t find online: what the company culture is like, how the values of the company play out in day-to-day business, etc.
“I’ve actually never done this type of job before, but…”
If you have a lack of experience, your resume will show it. There’s no need to further underscore your lack of qualifications. In fact, the interview is your chance creatively connect the dots between your resume and your decision to apply for the job. It’s where you’re able to tell the interviewer why you’ll be a perfect fit for the job, even if that’s not what it looks like on paper.
“I really can’t imagine anyone more qualified than me.”
Self-aggrandizing during an interview only serves to hurt you in the end. Since you haven’t seen the resumes of the other applicants, there’s no use in overtly comparing yourself to them. What’s important to learn is the art of the subtle comparison. “We all have room for improvement, so be honest with yourself: How would an interviewer see you as compared to other candidates?” writes personal brand expert Brenda Bence. The key is being able to talk about the things that make you special – not just saying that you’re special.
“My last boss was terrible.”
Absolutely no griping about your last company allowed, unless there’s some really special circumstance. Complaining about how you didn’t get along in your last work environment is detrimental on two levels. First, it shows your lack of ability to cope with a challenging situation and move past it. Second, the last thing your interviewer wants is for you to be talking trash about their company or employees in the future. Obviously, it’s important to talk about past challenges you’ve faced on the job – but critically evaluate, don’t complain.
“This will be a great stepping stone to my next career move.”
While this may be the exact reason you want this job, it’s not a savvy move to share with the interviewer. Hiring managers are generally looking for someone who will display a long-term commitment to the company. Instead, career expert Lynn Williams recommends asking questions about your opportunities for advancement in the company. This shows, according to her, “that you mean to stay with the company and let them benefit from your developing skills, knowledge, and maturity. You’re not just showing commitment, but long-term commitment.”
“I don’t know.”
There’s always a better way to respond to a question you’re unsure of than saying, “I don’t know.” Of course, it’s always important to be humble and not makeup what you’re not sure of, but this is where your communication skills come into play.
“I don’t have any questions for you.”
Having questions prepared for your interviewer is almost as important as being able to answer the questions they throw at you. The questions you ask are an opportunity to display the deep knowledge you have of the company.
“That’s a really nice watch you have on!”
Attempts to flatter your interviewer will most likely fall short – especially in relation to appearance or material possessions. If you really must compliment the interviewer, make it related to something you know they’ve done in the business, or even talk about a move the company made that you admired.
“Um, so, like, I really, um...”
As in any situation where you want to sound confident, intelligent, and collected: cut the filler words. This is also another reason to practice what you’re going to say out loud, beforehand, so you’re not searching for your words when you’re in the real interview.
“Do people generally like working here?”
Don't try to beat around the bush. Ask specific questions about company culture and team morale, and be direct. The best way to get the down low on what’s happening in an office is to talk to current or former employees there.