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7 Phrases You Should Never Use in a Face-to-Face Job Interview

Posted by Greg Lindberg on Jun 27, 2018 9:20:00 AM

An employer interviewing a candidate for a jobWith the summer officially underway, many recent college graduates are out on the job market in search of gainful employment. One major aspect of this hunt is the process of going through a face-to-face job interview.

There are several things prospective employers like to hear when sitting down with candidates, but there are just as many turn-offs that can almost immediately dash your chances of landing a decent-paying position. Here are seven things you should avoid saying when you’re doing a face-to-face job interview:

1. “I don’t like my current job (or didn’t like my previous job).”

If you speak negatively about any workplace you’ve been at or role you’ve had in the past, this attitude can be a turnoff to prospective employers. Even if you actually had the world’s worst boss or coworkers, don’t focus on these things. Instead, talk about what kinds of responsibilities you had in these jobs and how you were able to make a difference within the organization.

Most candidates on the job market have had unpleasant experiences in their careers, and if they haven’t, they will at some point. So, this is a given that doesn’t need to be dwelled on in an interview.

2. “What exactly does your organization do?”

One of the most obvious facets of a job interview that candidates still occasionally fail to realize is that the company for which someone is interviewing to work will be discussed during the interview. This discussion may include what products or services it offers, the history of the company, how many locations it has, how many employees it has, and how it is structured in terms of management.


While there is plenty you won’t know about a firm prior to an interview, there should be enough you can learn about it on your own by doing some research online. Most companies have a website and a social media presence, so you can at least gain a basic understanding of the organization. The last thing you want to happen is to sound like you’re totally unfamiliar with what they do, demonstrating that you didn’t prepare for the interview or that you’re just not terribly interested.

3. “I’m so tired.”

Perhaps you have a 7 a.m. job interview. Maybe you had to catch multiple subways or cable cars to get to an interview. Or, maybe you just didn’t sleep well the night before because you were nervous.

The reality is that none of these things really matter to an interviewer. Whether you’re tired or stressed out, make the best of your day, and try hard not to show any frustration because this can be perceived as having a negative attitude. Nobody wants to work with a negative person, even if you simply are having a bad day.

4. “I was fired from a previous job.”

Unfortunately, hardworking and dedicated individuals get fired from jobs every single day for a wide range of reasons. If such a case applies to you, avoid using the word “fired” in an interview. Instead, explain what happened using professional language, and keep a focus on how the experience of losing a job made you a smarter and stronger person.


For example, if new management took over at your previous employer, and staff changes were made due to differences in philosophies, talk about how your style just didn’t mesh with the new team. Then mention how you think you’d be a better fit for the company you’re interviewing with.

5. “I really need this job.”

If you come across as being desperate for a particular job, you can pretty much kiss your chances of getting it goodbye. While we all need income to survive, raise our kids, pay the bills, and hopefully have a little discretionary income left over to play with, it’s not appropriate to focus on these things when you’re interviewing. You should talk about what characteristics make you a good fit for a job and why the company should hire you over other candidates. Hiring managers simply don’t care about your personal expenses or any financial predicament you may find yourself in.

6. “I don’t know how to answer that.”

Some job interview questions can be tricky and tough to answer right off the bat. There’s a reason for that. The interviewer wants to see how you’ll respond. But if you’re totally unsure of how to answer a question about yourself, your background, or any work you have done, it’s better to play it safe by saying that you will look into whatever it is and get back to the interviewer with that information in due time. Saying that you just don’t know something could be misinterpreted to mean you are lazy or don’t care.

If you’re presented with a scenario or situational question, give it your best shot. It’s okay to take a little time to think about it, and if you need to talk out your thoughts or quickly make a few notes on paper, go for it. The flipside to this is that if you simply say you don’t know an answer, it’s a copout.

7. “I’m not sure if I could do that.”

If you’re asked about your willingness to do certain tasks that a job would require, you should never even imply that you can’t do something. Of course, if you’re totally caught off-guard by a responsibility that you had no idea was part of the role, that’s a different story, and you probably don’t want the position anyway. But try to at least act as if you are ready, willing, and able to do what an employer would ask of you. You can score some major brownie points by expressing your desire to learn new skills and tackle assignments you might not have as much experience doing.

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