Top 5 Things Not to Say in a Job Interview

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
In an ideal situation, you walk into an interview beaming with confidence and knowing exactly what to say. In reality, many a job applicant says exactly the wrong thing and, worse yet, makes the interviewer cringe and prompts her to move right on to the next candidate. Memorize five phrases you should never say in a job interview so you stand out for the right reasons.

5 “I Work Too Hard”

If you tell your interviewer that your biggest weakness is working too hard, you’ll look like one big suckup. For the most part, people want to work hard, do a good job and get regular raises. So saying that you work too hard or care too much doesn’t say anything special about you. If the “What is your biggest weakness?” question comes up, talk about a skill that isn’t exactly related to the job you’re applying for. You could mention that you don’t like speaking in front of large groups or aren’t great at putting together slideshow presentations, for example. But always follow up by saying that you’re working on improving.

4 “I Don’t Know”

Your potential employer wants to know how your brain works. He might throw you questions during an interview to make you think outside the box, such as “How would you handle this?” or “What would you do if…” When your answer is “I don’t know,” the interviewer may just end the meeting then. “I don’t know” sounds like “I don’t care” and “I’m not good at problem solving.” If you truly don’t have an immediate answer, ask follow-up questions as you’re thinking. You might say, “First I’d have to know how many people I’d be supervising” or “In my last position, I would’ve handled it this way.” Let your interviewer know that you’re processing the information and coming up with a solution, a characteristic he is probably seeking in a new hire.

3 “How Much Is the Salary?”

Asking an interviewer “How much does this type of position usually pay?” just means you were too lazy to do your homework. It’s your job to know this information before walking in the door. Research the company and see what the going rate is for the position. Check the company website and other industry resources. You should always know how much you’re worth before sitting down for an interview.

2 “I Hate My Boss”

Very few people absolutely adore their boss. You’re not supposed to. Your boss makes your job—and life—harder day in and day out. If you need to vent about a higher-up, do it at a bar with your friends, or better yet, in the privacy of your own home with your significant other. An interview is no time to spill your guts about how much you dislike working for your supervisor.

1 “I Need a Job”

Of course you do—that’s why you’re there. But saying so out loud makes you appear desperate and willing to cling to anybody who will hire you. An interviewer wants to know why you want to work for his company and what exactly makes you stand out from all the other candidates who need a job. Research the company before the interview, then go in and say “I really want to work here because of X or Y.”

Top 5 Highest-Paying Jobs Right Out of College Top 5 Highest-Paying Jobs Right Out of College