5 Damaging Interview Mistakes (What NOT To Say In An Interview)

When interviewing for a job, it's important to say the right things and even more important to refrain from saying the wrong things.

Here are the most common interview mistakes ruining job seeker interviews.

What Not to Say in an Interview

Job Interview Mistakes

Questions Answered

  • The most common job interview mistakes

  • How to avoid these mistakes

  • What to say in an interview instead

Have you ever left an interview thinking "I blew it!"?

Maybe you felt confident, only to receive an email days later saying “Thank you for your interest in (company), but we’ve decided to go with another candidate at this time.”

While it's always unfortunate to get rejected for a job, it's especially rough when you walk out feeling confident, only to find out that the interview didn't go nearly as well as you thought.

This scenario plays out more often than you think.

As a former hiring manager, recruiter, and interviewer, I’ve seen firsthand what goes wrong during candidate interviews.

While possessing the correct skill set, dressing the part, and having a firm handshake are all important, knowing what to say (or what not to say) is equally vital.

An interview generally lasts no longer than an hour, but results from a survey of 2,000 hiring managers found that 33% knew whether they would hire someone in the first 90 seconds (Twinemployment).

Making first impressions and saying the right thing extremely important!

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.” - Colossians 3-23.jpg

What should you not say in an interview? 5 common job interview mistakes

1. Don’t Say “Just”

“Just” is one of those words that creeps into our discussion without even noticing, and I'll be the first to admit I've used "just" in emails and conversations.

However, using it takes away validation and power from what follows.

You want to sound confident and authoritative, so "just" don't do it!

2. Don’t Say “Like, Um, Err”

These filler words usually go unnoticed in everyday conversations.

We all use them to fill in the silence as we're composing our thoughts. They indicate that we're not finished speaking, and can also become verbal tics that we repeat as a habit.

While they're not a big deal in casual conversation, when you're in a professional setting like an interview, they're less than ideal.

The truth is there's nothing wrong with quiet gaps during a conversation, and filling them with like, ummmm, or errrr sounds foolish and diminishes any sign of confidence. If you need a minute to think, simply ask the interviewer to elaborate.

Leave these filler words out and you'll instantly sound more professional.

3. Don’t Just give Yes or No Answers

Most of the time, interviewers will ask you open-ended questions, but sometimes you'll get a yes or no question. It's important to continue to elaborate instead of just saying “yes” or “no” and leaving it at that.

If you don't have an answer for the hiring manager’s question, you can ask them to elaborate, or if you must, re-word and turn it back around on them (without tiptoeing around an answer).

If they continue to dig for a response, let them know you would be happy to answer after follow up research. This shows your eagerness to learn, which can only help in this situation.

For example:

  • Interviewer: Do you have the PC troubleshooting experience stated in the job description?

  • You: I understand that troubleshooting is vital to this role which was stated in the job description, but is there a specific skill you are talking about?

  • Interviewer: You'll be asked to help and correct different issues on our company PC's throughout the office. Have you done that before?

  • You: No, I haven't performed any PC troubleshooting tasks in past roles but I'm a quick learner and will have a better grasp on the skill next time we meet!

4. Don’t Use Slang Words

Refrain from using slang during an interview. Cool, Wicked, OMG, Whatever, and other slang terms won’t cut it.

They sounds unprofessional, the hiring manager will lose interest, and they tend to undercut credibility.

Speak to the reader in a respectful way to prevent any unwanted results.

You're talking to a professional after all, not your BFF!

5. Don’t only use “We

The word "we" has both benefits and downsides.

As an interviewer, I love to hear about your accomplishments in a group or organizational setting. However, if you just talk about a group's accomplishments, it can sound like you're not willing to describe your specific role.

A common interview mistake is not being clear about your specific actions/accomplishments in previous positions.

What I really want to know as an interviewer is how YOU contributed to the group and what YOU have done as an individual. Start by telling the manager about what "we" did, followed by details on what "I" did.

Other Notable Interview Mistakes

  • Mentioning how terrible your old boss and coworkers were. Just keep them out of the conversation!

  • Talking about what you hate or dislike about your career field. Keep it positive!

  • Asking about how soon you can get a raise. There will be a day for this!

  • Not knowing much about the company you are interviewing for. Do your research!

  • Not having any questions for the interviewer at the end of the conversation. You can even write these down if needed!

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.” - Colossians 3-23 (1).jpg

How do you avoid these common interview mistakes

  • Study up before your interview. Learn about the company and review the job description to identify which of your skills fit the job.

  • Give them a solid handshake and make eye contact. These things give an immediate impression that you're confident and trustworthy.

  • Be on time!

  • Keep detailed information about your personal life out.

  • Leave your cell phone in your car, or put it on silent and leave it in your purse or briefcase.

Here are 5 things you SHOULD mention instead

  • Bring up details about the company so they know you’ve done your research.

  • Make it well known that you are very excited for the job opportunity (and appreciate them taking time out of their day to chat).

  • Bring up your work history and experience. Look to match the details you provide with the specific skills they are trying to find in a candidate.

  • Mention your ability to work within large teams and that you are also able to work well alone.

  • Make sure the hiring manager is aware that you are looking to stay for the long haul (building your career within the company).

Wrapping Up | what Not to say in an interview

While most interviews tend to be straightforward and similar in nature, candidates often find themselves stumbling over what to say.

Mistakes happen but you can minimize the risk of saying something wrong by preparing professional and truthful responses. Keep your cool, don’t rush answers, and be yourself.

To Recap:

  • Don’t use the word “Just”

  • Stay clear of filler words (like, umm, etc.)

  • Never answer a question with only “Yes” or “No”

  • Keep away from slang and new words

  • Talk about “We” but also talk about “Me”

Best of Luck!

Nailed the interview? Now it’s time to learn how to negotiate a job offer.

If we missed something you feel should be added to the list, let us know by commenting below!


Title: 5 Things To NEVER Say During a Job Interview

Category: Interview

Tags: Interview, Interview Mistakes, Common Interview Mistakes Made by Interviewees, What not to say in an interview, Common interview mistakes, What not to do in an interview, Mistakes to avoid in a job interview, Interview mistakes, 5 things to never say in an interview, common interview mistakes made by interviewees, what not to say in a job interview, interview mistakes, common interview mistakes, top interview mistakes to avoid, what to say in an interview

Author: Reid is a contributor to theJub. He's an employment and marketing enthusiast who studied business before taking on various recruiting, management, and marketing roles. More from the author.