You could be pro at job interviews, but there’s always a chance you’ll say something a bit off.
Your qualifications and endearing personality might just carry you over, but there are some things that are so bad that they could completely wreck your chances.
Here are nine interview faux pas that could automatically disqualify you, unless you’re really lucky:
1. ‘What does your company do?’
“Believe it or not, recruiters and hiring managers say they get asked this question all the time,” Charles Purdy writes for job site Monster.
Questions like this will make you look like you don’t even care enough to run a simple Google search. Make sure you do your homework.
2. ‘Are you married?/Are you pregnant?/etc.’
Never ask the interviewer any personal questions — or anything that could be offensive. It’s just off-putting.
That goes especially for potentially insulting queries, like whether or not a woman is pregnant.
“If you are not pregnant, it is very much a ground-swallow-me-up-now moment as you struggle to find the words to explain to a perfect stranger that it is very much just a food baby under your jumper,” Catherine Phillips wrote in the Metro.
“Keep things professional.”
3. ‘S—‘, ‘b—-‘, ‘f—‘, etc.
Letting out a curse word or two during a funny story might not be a nail in the coffin, but it’s better to hold off on the profanities in job interviews.
Angrily swearing at someone (your interviewer or otherwise) would especially knock you out of the running. This goes double for any offensive, racist, or sexist speech.
It’s not just rude — it will make you seem dumb.
Business Insider’s Shana Lebowitz previously reported that a 2012 study found that people perceive those who swear as being less intelligent.
4. ‘I want your job’
Put yourself in your interviewer’s shoes. Would you want to hire someone who sounds like they’re plotting to take your job?
If you’re really just curious about advancement within the organisation, there are better ways to phrase your inquiry.
Glassdoor’s Sarah Greesonbach recommends asking how the company helps high performers grow: “Since ‘growth’ can be a codeword for future promotions, asking this question will give the interviewer an opportunity to talk about people who started out in this position and grew into promotions or raises.”
5. ‘This isn’t my top choice’
Even if you can’t imagine yourself staying on at the company too long, it’s important not to express this aloud. Your interviewer’s not going to respond well to someone that expresses an intention to use the position as a mere stepping stone to something bigger and better.
The same thing goes for interviewing with your second choice. You may have a dream job in the wings that you’re waiting to hear back from, but don’t make the interviewer feel like you don’t value their organisation.
Want to show the hiring manager that you’re in high demand without messing up your chances? Writing for Fast Company, Andrew Fennell recommends briefly mentioning up front that other companies are set to interview you: “If you are indeed a good fit for the role, then this should be enough to persuade the recruiter to highlight your resume to the hiring manager and push them to interview you promptly.”
6. ‘If I don’t get this job, I don’t know what I’ll do’
Any interviewer worth their salt won’t allow themselves to be guilted into offering you a job, so save the sob story. The same sentiment goes for statements like, “I’d better get this job, or else.”
Even if you’re just kidding (I mean, hopefully you’re kidding), you’ll just come across as creepy and overly aggressive.
7. ‘Do you want to grab dinner sometime?’ or ‘Wow, you have such a beautiful smile’
Think you can seduce the hiring manager into giving you the role?
Think again. This sort of behaviour runs the risk of derailing your entire candidacy.
8. ‘I know I’m not the most qualified person, but…’
If you say this, the appropriate response from the interviewer is, ‘Oh, you’re not? Goodbye then.’
Clearly, the interviewer thinks you’re qualified enough to talk to. So stop with the self-deprecation. It’s not refreshing.
Writing in the Guardian, Charlotte Seager recommends beating your self-doubt by “picturing yourself being successful”.
9. ‘I hated my last boss’
Job interviews aren’t the time to vent about your previous work situation. In fact, this sort of statement will just get you labelled a potential workplace whiner with a terrible attitude.
Even if your last company was full of jerks and idiots, keep that to yourself and put a positive spin on the experience. The hiring manager wants to determine if you’re a good fit for their organisation, not hear you gripe about the past.
Jacquelyn Smith contributed to a previous version of this article.“
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