9 things you absolutely should not say in a job interview

Interviews can be horrible. If you’re not an extrovert or a particularly confident person, they can be downright uncomfortable, but it’s important to understand that nobody in that room wants you to fail. Those conducting the interviews are hopeful that you could be the next big star for their company. There are, of course, some areas, as both interviewer and interviewee, it’s best not to stray in to. Here are 9 things that will put an end to any prospective candidacy.


1. “Sorry I’m late.”

I mean, this should go without saying, shouldn’t it? Nothing says, “I am going to let you down” more than being late to your interview. Though it’s not definitely the end of your candidacy, you are immediately at a disadvantage compared to the dozens of prospective employees who were on time. Still, it could be worse. You could role in late shouting “Let’s do this!” Or you could turn up late and hung over.


2. “Gucci.”

This one courtesy of John Fleischauer. Probably best not to turn up to an interview having bathed in cologne whilst still wearing your sunglasses, before proclaiming the brand of the glasses and winking after removing them. What next, rolling up your shirtsleeves to reveal a Rolex, pointing it out and whispering “£5,000”? Taking the panel out to the car park to show them your Maserati? Even if you’re going for a top job, it’s important not to come across as arrogant.


3. What’s the policy on dating co-workers?

Gross, gross, gross. This is a place of business not a dating app. Perhaps wait till you are actually dating someone in the office before asking this question, okay Romeo? You don’t want the interviewer to think you’re a creep.


4. “We’ve already made the decision to go with someone else.”

One for those conducting the interview, now. Don’t be overly “nice” by conducting an interview when you’ve already made the decision to hire somebody else. Though the candidate will be disappointed to have the interview cancelled, they will appreciate not having their time wasted. The reality of job hunting is that it feels like 95% time wasting already, and all the prep effort and stress that goes with it just to be told you were never in the running in the first place will put that candidate off your company for life.


5. “Surprise! We’re going to do the Harlem Shake!”

Do not, whatever you do, get your prospective candidates to do any sort of Internet fad. Just don’t do it. At best, it will make them feel uncomfortable, at worst there will be candidate shaped holes in your wall as they all run away as fast as they can.


6. “I guess your degree means nothing. You’ll have to work here.”

Okay, a lot to unpack here. Firstly, don’t insult the candidate right off the bat. Secondly, don’t make the role sound completely soul destroying and beneath the candidate. Thirdly, why even bother having the interview if you’ve already decided the candidate will work there? And lastly, don’t presume that the candidate is going to take the job. It is absolutely astounding how many mistakes this employer made in just two short sentences. It’s almost impressive.


7. “I will let my hand puppet answer this question.”

Back to the candidates. Unless you are going for a job as a marionette or a children’s entertainer, don’t answer questions through a puppet, especially not one as crude as a paper bag with a face drawn on it. This story doesn’t specify what type of job he was hiring for, but I like to think it was an accountant. “This is Eric the Exemption Expert, he’s the Tax superhero.” Whimsy is not a bad thing, necessarily, but maybe best to reveal it once you’ve got the job and not in the interview.


8. “What’s your policy on employee theft?”

Kleptomania is not the most desirable trait in a potential candidate, especially if you are so bad at it that you warn of your intent to potential victims. In fairness, this guy may have been talking about stealing the employees themselves, which is actually worse when you think about it.


9. “Can my girlfriend come in with me?”

Moral support is important, especially if you haven’t had a job for a little while. But do not, and I mean ever, bring your girlfriend, friend, family, dog, cat or goldfish to the interview. Come alone. If you are foolish enough to do this, then for heavens sake don’t ask if they can come in with you. It is arguably a weirder thing to do then the hand puppet thing. Here is a sketch that demonstrates exactly how awkward this behaviour can be.



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