[ Skip Main Nav ]

Career articles

5 things you shouldn’t say in a job interview

Job interview tips

Now that you’ve landed an interview at the company of your dreams, it’s time to prepare for the initial meeting. While there’s a wealth of information on coaching people about what to say when encountering a prospective employer, it’s also key that you know what not to talk about.

Here are five things you shouldn’t say in that crucial first interview, according to longtime human resource specialist Donna Wyatt, PhD, an online instructor in the MBA program for University of Phoenix:


“I hate my previous employer.”

“Any kind of complaint you make about a former employer during an interview won’t come across in a professional manner,” notes Wyatt, who works in development for a technology company and says she’s “seen it all.”

No matter how you feel about where you worked previously, always try to frame your work history in a positive light. If you really hated your last boss, “just keep it brief if asked why you are leaving,” Wyatt suggests, “and say something like, ‘I’m looking for better opportunities to advance.’”

“What are your benefits?”

“It’s inappropriate to bring up vacation days, sick days or anything about telecommuting during a first interview,” Wyatt says. If you’re concerned about these issues, you usually can research a company in advance to find out about its policies or about the corporate culture.

“Wait until you’ve gotten an offer or are further down the road before you broach this subject, or it may appear that you only care about what you’re getting out of it rather than how you can help the organization,” Wyatt says.

“What does your company do?”

“In a job market like today’s where there are more candidates for most positions than there are jobs, you have to do your research about the company you are interviewing with in order to stand a fighting chance,” Wyatt says.

When you ask questions about what the company does, or about its history, she cautions, it reveals that you haven’t spent adequate time doing your homework and preparing for the interview. “Don’t look at a job interview as an information gathering session,” she says.

“That kind of work doesn’t appeal to me.”

“While most people don’t love to make photocopies, it’s best [during an interview] not to dwell on activities that you don’t like,” Wyatt notes.

Even if you’re asked about what aspects of work you don’t find enjoyable, she says, “you can answer, ‘Well, I’m not a huge fan of making copies, but I understand that’s part of the job so I’m willing to do it.’”

“I love making mosaics.”

Revealing lots of details about your personal politics, religion, hobbies or family is unprofessional in an interview, Wyatt says.

When job candidates offer too much personal information, their relevant skills and experience become diluted by other nonessential information, she says, and “it tends to take the interview in a direction that may not serve you that well.”