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Ten Things You Should Never Say in a Job Interview – And One Thing You Should

If you make it to the interviews in a hiring process, you have accomplished a great deal. Your resume was good enough and something you said got somebody’s attention. But the interview is the sink or swim moment for most people. Your goal in an interview is to impress the interviewer in the right way. To help you make the right impression, here are ten things you should never say in a job interview – and one thing you should say.
Things you should never say:

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  1. Corporate values and vision and all of that really don’t matter to me. I just need a paycheck. If you want a job in any company at a level higher than janitor, you should care about these things. Corporate values determine how a company does business. Vision is about what the company hopes to achieve. If all you care about is a paycheck and you have no pride in your work, it is not likely that anyone will hire you to do anything.
  2. What do you people actually do here? This question might send you out the door even before the interview begins. If you do not have enough interest in the job and if you have done no more preparation for the interview, you might as well announce yourself as lazy and disinterested.
  3. I kicked the *&(%^*%( out of that project.Profanity is never appropriate in a professional or business setting. If you are inclined to use a great deal of profanity, start practicing in advance of the interview. If you cannot have one professional conversation without profanity, it is unlikely that you can avoid using profanity in a tense situation with a customer or a co-worker.
  4. But, like dude, you know what this job market is like. It’s super hard to get a job. This level of familiarity and casual speech pattern is not appropriate in a job interview. Try to sound professional. And always be courteous to the interviewer.
  5. My last boss was a total jerk. As a general rule, don’t bring your unhappiness in a previous job into an interview. How you were treated by your last boss is irrelevant, unless you want to open the door to a discussion of what you did to deserve that treatment from your boss. If you are asked why you are seeking a change in employment, it is more appropriate to form a response around a need for new challenges or a desire to move to a role that allowed you to make a more valuable contribution.
  6. Well, you know how they are. . .Language that groups people by gender, age, race, religion, or any other stereotype is inappropriate in the workplace. Customers and other employees come from all kinds of backgrounds. No company needs a bigot creating interpersonal problems or making the company vulnerable to a lawsuit.
  7. How much money will I make?This question is better left for a conversation after the job has been offered. First, the job posting should provide some general idea of the salary range. Asking in an interview gives the impression that your only interest is the money. The best approach is to wait until the interviewer brings up the matter of salary.
  8. What kind of perks do people get here?This is an even worse question than asking about salary. Bonuses, vacation time, benefits and other perks are generally discussed as part of a salary package after the job has been offered. On the one hand, asking this question in the interview tells the interviewer you only care about what you will get out of the job. On the other hand, getting an answer to this early in the process might reduce your bargaining power if you are offered the job.
  9. After all I’ve just said, do you really think I have weaknesses?This question is almost guaranteed to be asked in your interview. Have an answer ready. You don’t need an extensive list of weaknesses, but everybody has weaknesses. Prepare in advance so you can present your weakness as a learning experience or as a possible asset.
  10. My only question is if I got the job.Every interview ends with an opportunity for you to ask questions of the interviewer. ALWAYS have questions. You can prepare a list of questions in advance and check them off if they are answered during the interview. Then add new questions as they arise. Questions indicate a genuine interest in the job and an opportunity to find out what they are really looking for in the person they hire. A good question is, “What kinds of people have been successful or unsuccessful in this job?” Then you can touch on these points in your follow-up letter.

The one thing you absolutely should say:

"I genuinely hope to work for ABC Company because. . ." This is your chance to be absolutely clear that you want the job. It also indicates that the company goals and values resonate with you. Your statement should point to something important about either the company or the job and why it is meaningful to you.


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