What Should You Not Say in an Interview?

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February 4, 2020
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min read

As they say, you only have one chance to make a first impression, and a job interview is certainly no exception. If you are looking to grow your career, nailing your interview is key. 

When people become nervous, they often end up sharing too much at the job interview. It's good to give an honest response to each question, but bring a competitive mindset and be sure to follow the professional advice that you have at your disposal.

Below, we have compiled a list of topics you should avoid during your interview. Try not to bring these things up in your initial interview, or for some of them, maybe not at all.


Everyone wants to know how much money they will be making at a new job. However, try to avoid talking numbers in your interview. If salary is the first question, the interviewer could feel all you are after is money.

There will be time at a later date to talk about compensation. Try to focus on your experience and how you would best fit at the company.  Once you are closer to the end of the process you will find the right opportunity to discuss pay.

Remember, you can always negotiate after you receive an offer for the position. 

Time off 

Discussing vacation time and work from home policies off the bat can be a red flag. Hiring managers are looking for candidates that want to work. Bringing up time out of the office can send a message of laziness and give a negative impression.

Also, inquiring about the hours for the role can send a message that you are either looking to leave early or are usually late. There will be time to discuss the employer's policies when it comes to being out of the office.  Save questions about benefits and vacation time for a call or meeting with human resources, rather than the initial interviewer. 


Avoid commenting on the hiring manager's appearance. Even something as simple as "you look nice today" could be taken the wrong way. Focus on the role and your experience, and keep comments related to your skills and the questions asked at the interview. 

Dress professionally for your interviews by keeping it neat and clean. It's always safer to be overdressed than too casual for a job interview. 


No one is perfect. Be prepared to answer what a weakness of yours is. Share a shortcoming that is not crucial to the job description.

For example, if you are interviewing for a role on a team, don't talk about how you don't work well with others. You can share historical weaknesses you have worked to improve throughout your career.  


Don’t brag about yourself as a whole. You want the interviewer to learn about your strengths and skills without bragging. You do not know if you are the best fit or best candidate they are meeting with.

Every company has different values they look for so keep your responses professional and polite. It's okay to highlight skills you have for the employer, but do not say too much. Never allude to overtaking the hiring manager’s job or becoming their boss at the company one day.


Hiring managers are not looking for a candidate that will spend most of their time spreading rumors. You do not want them to think you subscribe to gossip. If you have heard something about the organization that is not related to the job you are applying for, do not bring it up during your job interview. 

Tips on what you should say during your interview 

Be professional

Keep it professional. Focus on your experience and skill set. The hiring manager is looking for a candidate that has done their homework. Show them you have read up on the company and understand their culture.

Your resume should also give a positive impression. If you have had the same funny email address since high school, consider changing it to something more mature. Keep in mind that your email address is a representation of you, A version of your name works best.  

Don't be late. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive and check-in for your job interview, or else you risk bring one of the candidates that employers don't prioritize at the job interview. 

Ask questions

If asked if you have a question about the role, you should never say "no." If you do not have a specific question about the role, ask about the company culture or how the team is structured. Asking questions and staying engaged demonstrates your desire to be hired—something all candidates at a job interview should do. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tactfully address questions about my weaknesses in an interview?

When asked about weaknesses, it's important to be honest yet strategic. Choose a real area you're working to improve upon, explain the steps you're taking to overcome it, and highlight how it's made you a more adaptable and self-aware professional. This shows self-reflection and a commitment to personal growth, which are valuable traits to employers.

Is it ever appropriate to discuss salary expectations in the first interview?

Generally, it's best to wait for the employer to bring up salary discussions, often in a second interview or a job offer stage. However, if the interviewer asks about your salary expectations, be prepared with a researched response that reflects your worth and the market rate. Keep the conversation positive and express your enthusiasm for the role and the company.

Can I ask about work-life balance during an interview, or will it make me seem uncommitted?

It's perfectly acceptable to inquire about work-life balance, as it's an important aspect of job satisfaction. Phrase it positively by expressing your dedication to productivity and your interest in how the company supports its employees in maintaining a healthy balance. This demonstrates that you value both your work and personal well-being, which can actually be an asset to the employer.

Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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