What not to do in a job interview

What not to say or do at a job interview

Colleen Clarke|

So there was another story out yesterday about millennials bringing their parents with them to job interviews. That’s got me thinking that it often seems like what should be the most obvious interview dos and don’ts get overlooked. So here’s a refresher course on what not to say and do at a job interview.

What not to ask:

    1. What is the job I am interviewing for again?
    You may have applied to several jobs recently, make sure you know exactly which position you are interviewing for and the requirements of the position.

    2. What does your company do?
    You should be mentioning facets of what the company does as it relates to what you bring to the table throughout the interview. Your pre interview research will have prepared you to speak intelligently about the company’s mission statement and company history, its board of directors, their products, community involvement, environmental participation, etc.

    3. How much vacation do I get? Do I get any vacation time in the first year?
    Save this question for after the job offer has been made.

    4. What is the salary?
    Save it. By the second or third interview you should have some idea about the salary range, if not, you can start probing to see whether you want to continue interviewing.

    5. What are the benefits? Do I get a parking spot?
    Save it.

    6. What time do I have to start in the morning? OR What are the office hours?
    Save it.

    7. Is there flex time?
    Save it.

    8. Can I work from home some days?
    Save it.

    9. What is the dress code of the office?
    You should observe this before going into the interview room, if not, it’s a ‘save It’ question.

    10. How soon before I can be promoted? OR What other positions are available right now? What job is this a stepping stone for?
    Only ever interview for the actually posted position. You won’t be hired if you seem uninterested in the job you’re interviewing for.

    11. Will I get business cards?
    Save it.

Save it questions should not be asked until after a job offer has been made.

What not to do:

    1. Your professional demeanor starts when you leave your house. Imagine you live in a fishbowl and that every action you make is being watched by the interviewer you have not met yet. You don’t want the person you cut off in traffic to be sitting across the desk from you.

    2. No talking or texting on your cell phone in the reception room or while waiting for the interviewer in the interview room.

    3. Don’t bring your phone with you, or at least triple check that it is turned off. (No, vibrate mode isn’t good enough. It’s still distracting.)

    4. It is okay to tell an interviewer you are nervous.

    5. Don’t bring your children or a family member to the interview. (So leave your mom at home.)

Keep your wits about you in an interview. Use common sense and pull out every bit of etiquette and good manners you have ever been taught. Imagine you are a guest in a person’s home whom you have just met. Be a little bit formal but not stiff. Be yourself, but your most upbeat, positive, confident self.

Best of luck!

Colleen Clarke, Career Specialist & Corporate Trainer



Author of Networking: How to build relationships that count and How To Get a Job and Keep

Category: Job interviews, Student
  • Najeeb

    Nice article.

  • Tom Waters

    In “what not to ask”, question six about work hours seems strange to omit. Some of us have family obligations and certain hours will just not work out. I’ve always asked about core work hours.

  • Ron Bereznicki

    No wonder I did not get the job.

  • Jill Patricia Lyons

    One thing that bothers me is the on-line assessments like the one I have just completed for a larger retail chain… I have yet to receive any kind of feedback on my assessment results… this is true for assessments done as part of the interview process as well… shouldn’t we be entitled to receive feedback?… they are our answers after all…

    Oh, there was one “personality test” I did for a government job that gave feedback… apparently I failed… twice… the first recruiter told me to fill it out as if I was in a work environment… the second told me to fill it out truthfully… neither recruiter could view the answers to see what the problem was… I did however pass the work simulation test with flying colors… what the heck???

    And anyway, what are they looking for?

  • Jill Patricia Lyons

    I generally just draw a blank when it comes to interviews…I have no idea what they are looking for and advice columns don’t help… one time I actually did try to follow an advice column and of course the interviewer(s) asked questions not addressed in the column… it was the most uncomfortable interview I had ever had… almost every piece of advice I ever heard just flew right out the window… in fact right now I can’t think of one piece of advice I would say was useful for interviews…