How to Blow an Interview in Three Words or Less








Interviews are stressful. I get it. It feels like this small chunk of time in which you have to prove yourself, and that can be overwhelming for everyone. How do you sum up everything you are capable of into a 30-minute timeframe? How do you convince a hiring manager that you are the one they want, with your competition sitting right out in the lobby waiting for their chance to do the same?

You’re not alone in thinking that interviews are stressful. But the truth is, there is an art form to successful interviews – a reason why some people just seem universally better at interviewing than others. Yes, some of that has to do with their ability to keep their cool in stressful situations. But the rest comes from the knowledge that what they don’t say is just as important as what they do.

So in case you weren’t aware, here are the key phrases you should never utter in an interview.


I Don’t Know

The vast majority of the questions asked in an interview will have to do with you and your work history. So if you find yourself reaching for the phrase, “I don’t know,” in response to any of the questions you have been asked, pull back and reevaluate. Not all of us think quickly on our feet, and that’s fine. But if an interviewer is asking you to reference a time in your past when you helped your company solve a problem, for instance, ask for a moment to think – and then take that moment. Don’t default to “I don’t know” because you’re nervous and can’t think of something on the fly. Breathe, contemplate, and then respond with an answer that will truly impress them.

This also applies to questions about the company and job at hand. Do your research, and be ready and willing to prove you have done that research. If you’re answering “I don’t know” when asked about specific job duties pertinent to this opening, you’ve already talked yourself out of this position – and likely any others that might have one day had you sitting in front of this same hiring manager.


How Much?

“How much vacation time are you offering?” “How much money does this opening pay?” “How much does the company contribute to 401k’s?”

Whoa. Hold your horses. There is a time and place for questions of the “how much” variety, but during the interview? You should be focused on getting that job offer first – not on assuming it is already yours to accept or deny. When “how much” comes up in a job interview, there is an implicit arrogance that most hiring managers won’t respond well to. So take a step back and remember that they are interviewing you for this job, not the other way around.


I Really Hated…

Any time you catch yourself starting to complain about a previous job or supervisor, stop. Even if it feels relevant to the discussion. Remember that this employer doesn’t yet know you, and so if you are negatively reflecting upon past experiences, they will be inclined to at least consider the possibility that you were as much a contributing factor to that negativity as the employer you are complaining. Instead, find diplomatic ways to phrase your reasons behind leaving previous positions, and always turn the conversation back to what you have to offer this company, not what you found lacking in the past.


Sorry I’m Late

Sure, life happens. But when it comes to job interviews, you don’t ever want to start off by being the one late into the room. Plan your day around being at least 15 to 20 minutes early to the interview. You can always use that time to brush up on your notes about the company as you wait. This is one of those situations where a bad first impression is almost impossible to recover from, so just don’t put yourself in that position. Show up early and prove from the moment you walk into the door that landing this job is important to you.

Trust me, hiring managers are paying attention!


About Kylie Hammond
Executive Search Consultant, Head-Hunter, HR Consultant, Executive Career Coach, Expert Resume Writer & Executive Talent Agent.

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