So it’s job interview time. Nerves are bouncing around in your belly, your hands are shaking and your mind is racing — you want the job, and you definitely don’t want to say the wrong thing.
What phrases really rub interviewers the wrong way?
Business Insider spoke with several in leadership positions in various industries about the things they don’t want to hear from an interviewee.
Here’s what you don’t want to say to your interviewer:
1. ‘I left my previous job because the environment was toxic/my boss was too demanding.’
Complaining about past gigs or bosses is by far one of the worst things you can do in an interview. Several of the experts listed this as their No. 1 pet peeve.
“The interviewer doesn’t know you very well, and it’s hard to decipher if you may indeed be a large part of that drama,” says Gianna Scorsone, senior vice president of marketing and sales operations for Mondo. “Employers want to hire someone who comes with no baggage. Much like a relationship, when first meeting someone, you try and identify red flags. Avoid this at all cost.”
“Talking negatively about your current job raises a red flag that you might be difficult to manage or someone that blames management for their own poor performance,” says Warren Webster, president and CEO of the fashion and lifestyle brand Coveteur. “I can’t help thinking you might be interviewing somewhere else in a couple years saying the same thing about us.”
If you have to explain why you left your last job on short notice, put a positive spin on it. Whatever you do, don’t gripe. Even if you’re justified.
2. ‘It’s so f—ing cold outside.’
“Most of us drop the occasional f-bomb, but during a job interview is never the time or the place,” says Lucinda Ellery, the founder of the beauty brand Lucinda Ellery Consultancy.
Try to keep things PG with the interviewer.
3. ‘I’ve moved around in jobs because I haven’t found the right fit/am not challenged enough.’
According to Scorsone, a statement like this will make you sound aimless and lost.
“This will make the interviewer immediately think to themselves: ‘Why would this role be any different? They’ll probably leave here in six months,'” she says. “Also, this begs the question of what type of relationship you have with your manager. It doesn’t sound like open communication where you express the need and want to take on more with solutions at hand. Ultimately, a manager would love someone who can self-sustain and enable growth through being proactive, strong in follow-through of work, and brings ideas and solutions to the table.”
4. ‘What does your company do?’/’Where is your company headquartered?’
A general rule to abide by during job interviews is if you can answer your question with a Google search, don’t ask it.
“You should have done your research before coming through our door,” says Ed Mitzen, the founder of the marketing firm Fingerpaint.
5. ‘As a manager, I pretty much work alone.’
“When discussing your current role, if you are in a leadership or managerial position, never take all the credit for accomplishments,” says Suzanne Silverstein, president of the contemporary clothing line Parker. “Emphasize your team and how through their talents your vision is being realized. Most successful leaders know that they are only as good as their team. Acknowledging this in an interview will go a long way.”
6. ‘What is your vacation policy?’
“This question shows me you are already thinking about taking a break,” Mitzen says. “We want workhorses that will make our company stronger, not those thinking about the beach on Day One.”
7. ‘Sorry, I’m not very punctual.’
It’s not a great idea to highlight a flaw like tardiness during your job interview.
“Anyone that doesn’t have the discipline to show up on time — or early — isn’t someone we will trust with our clients’ business,” Mitzen says.
8. ‘You have some beautiful women/men in your office.’
“This shows a lack of maturity,” Mitzen says. “I would be concerned their behavior wouldn’t be office-appropriate if we gave them a shot.”
9. ‘Do you have grandkids?’
“My ego took a hit on this one, much like when someone asks if a woman is pregnant when they aren’t,” Mitzen says. “I may look like I could have grandkids, but not by much. Use better judgment.”
10. ‘I don’t have any questions.’
“A candidate that doesn’t have any questions is potentially somebody that is either not interested in your organization, their career, or possibly both,” Ellery says.