With the competition for jobs fiercer than ever, many people prep for interviews by reading articles about how to sell themselves to potential employers. These tip-filled pieces generally center on things you should say during a sit-down with hiring managers, but as Donna Fuscaldo points out in a post for Glassdoor.com, the things you don’t say can be just as important. Specifically, Fuscaldo has compiled a list of “5 Things Not to Say During a Job Interview,” and while most of her no-no-phrases seem fairly obvious, “even seasoned professionals make mistakes during in-person interviews,” she writes.
The first phrase to avoid, she says, is “I’m always looking.” Sure, it’s a different world than it was 50 years ago, when folks expected to work for the same company for their entire lives, but even so, employers still value a little thing called loyalty. This trait has become increasingly rare, so by suggesting you’ll stick around for a while, you’ll give yourself a leg up. “You really want the candidate to differentiate and its so uncommon for a candidate to be ‘loyal’ it becomes a differentiator,” says Jeffrey Agranoff of the accounting firm Friedman LLP.
Another thing you shouldn’t say: “I’m not working over 40 hours a week.” Obviously, you don’t want a job that’s going to upset your delicate work-life balance, but you can worry about the hours later. During the interview, you want to project the image of a conscientious, hard-working employee. “No one wants to work 24 hours, but if you are going to say that to me right away, you are already saying you don’t want to work hard,” says Janet Elkin, chief executive of the healthcare-staffing firm Supplemental Healthcare. “The cardinal rule is always make the interviewer fall in love with you.”
Contrary to popular opinion, says Mark Jaffe, president of the executive-search firm Wyatt & Jaffe, making interviewers fall in love with you doesn’t involve oversharing stuff about your personal life. With that in mind, Fuscaldo warns against saying things like, “I’m a cat (or dog, or fish) person.” It might be tempting to talk about how much you love “Orange Is the New Black,” but don’t do it. “Your potential employer only cares about what you can do for them they don’t care about your personal life,” Jaffe says.
He or she also doesn’t really care if you’re a laugh riot. When the interviewer starts asking you questions about past job experiences, don’t send the message “Sarcasm is my middle name.” Be charming, sure, but stay on topic and leave that rapier wit in its sheath. Or, as Agranoff puts it, “Don’t try to be funny, smart, cute or even sarcastic during an interview. You want to connect, to smile, to have fun but it’s not a comedy routine.”
Nor is it a venue to vent about your last job. That’s why you should never say, “I hated my last boss.” Even if you’ve got a legitimate gripe against the manager that forced you out of your last gig, keep it to yourself. “What I’m thinking when I hear that over and over again is that you are going to say the same thing about me one day,” Elkin says.