3 Things to Never Say During an Interview

It’s no secret that there is an art to interviewing. Gone are the days of circling a “Help Wanted” ad in the newspaper, listing your qualifications to the manager and landing the job on the spot.

Becoming a highly effective interviewer takes practice. Even professionals that have been in the job market for years will still have hiccups during their interview. We’re human – it happens.

With that being said, it’s no shock that there are about 500,000+ articles for interview tips and tricks. While this post may slightly contribute to that statistic, I wanted to take the alternate route and discuss a few things that you should NOT do during an interview, more specifically during the first one.

“What’s the pay?”

*cringe* This is a HIGHLY debated topic, depending on who you talk to; ask any hiring manager or CEO and they will be turned off by the question but a salesperson will ask the question before you can even finish saying hello to them. Driving in the recruiter seat and hearing the real-life feedback on interviews, I am telling you right now, if you bring up “What’s the pay?” during the first interview, you have a huge chance of blowing the opportunity.

“But I do need to know the pay, why can’t I ask?”

The reason this is a “no-no” is because it makes you appear motivated by the wrong reasons. Regardless of the industry you work in, managers care more about your engagement with the position itself and your investment in the company long-term. Do you believe in their mission? Do you want to be a part of their team? Do you see yourself staying there for the long haul? If you whip out salary talk, you can be categorized as a money-centric individual that will easily jump to the next opportunity if it pays $1/hour more.

It’s like if you went on a first date and within 15 minutes, you ask when you’re getting married and having kids. Yikes. Court the opportunity, first.

Also, you have to consider that the first interviewer may not even be the decision maker on salary. Seasoned interviewers know that compensation conversations and negotiations happen in the later half of the interview process, unless you are working with a recruiter, to which the pay is usually established on the front end.

Takeaway: Of course you will find out how much the pay is. Don’t rush the question, especially if you haven’t had a chance to really get to know the role first.

“How quickly will I get promoted?”

This is a tricky question to navigate. On one hand, there is nothing wrong with asking about growth potential; in fact, I would encourage it. However, you have to be more strategic about your phrasing.

What you want to avoid is seeming like you already want out of the job you’re interviewing for. The hiring manager is looking to fill a certain position, and if your only focus is how quickly you can leave it, they will be quick to consider someone else that has the patience to learn and grow in THAT role.

Consider more of an open-ended question regarding “What is the typical career path for this role?” or “How is success defined in this role?”

Badmouthing your boss

No No No No NO. This is one of the most detrimental things you can do during an interview and after hearing feedback from several hiring managers over the years, almost EVERY SINGLE PERSON that bad mouths their boss does not move forward in the interview process.

Speaking poorly about you current or previous boss (true or not) is not a value add to your candidacy. It can come across as unprofessional and potentially a way of blaming your shortcomings on your boss or circumstances they created. Additionally, badmouthing can be perceived it in a sense of “Wow, I would hope this person doesn’t talk this way about me if they leave my company.”

Have we all had horrible bosses and bad experiences? Of course, it happens. That doesn’t mean you use it all collateral in your interview. Don’t be baited by the “Why are you looking to leave your current company?” as a way to explain how your boss sucks. Come up with a professional, brief response – focus your answer on your future goals rather your desire to get out of your current company.

These are just a select handful of things to never say in a job interview, but some of these most common for sure. While to some these may seem like very obvious “no-no’s”, they can easily slip into your responses and be a risk to your candidacy. Overall, the best course of action is to keep your responses focused on the positive and what you can contribute to the team!

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