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What Not to Say

What not to say at a job interview

Sometimes what you don't say is as important as what you do say. There are certain workplace situations where keeping things to yourself is definitely the right course of action, especially at that all important job interview.

Don't ask the interviewer questions about what their company does. Ensure you do thorough research before you attend the interview so you can talk knowledgeably about the business.

Don't give the interviewer a list of things you are unwilling to do. You should understand that there are always going to be certain tasks that you may not enjoy but need doing nevertheless.

Be wary of giving compliments that could seem overly familiar. There needs to be boundaries and complimenting someone on their appearance may seem innocuous to you, however could cause offence. Complimenting someone on their professional achievements could be a better tactic.

Don't try to get involved in too much small talk. While it important to build a rapport with the interviewer asking a lot of personal questions can seem nosey and obtrusive and would certainly not be relevant.

Don't criticise your former company or boss. If you start of with negative comments the interviewer may assume you are a potential management problem. If you did have issues you should specify how you overcame challenges and found solutions to the problem.

Don't give out unnecessary or irrelevant personal information. Your private life needs to be kept that way. You need to present yourself as a strong, professional and credible job candidate.

Never use slang words or phrases. Slang will generally be looked down upon in an interview situation and deemed unprofessional. An interview is a formal situation and using correct grammar is essential. It should go without saying that using profanities or curse words is a definite no no.

Don't say you have no questions. IF you say you have no questions when asked it could seem that you have no interest in the company or position and you could come across as unengaged or unprepared.

Don't ask how long you will have to wait until you get a promotion. This could appear arrogant and although you want to appear confident you don't even have the job yet. It could also seem that you think the job you are interviewing for is beneath you. It would be more tactful to enquire as to the typical career path for that particular position.

Don't talk about your ill health. It is best not to talk about physical ailments or illnesses unless they are relevant. If there is a gap in your employment history due to illness you can offer a quick explanation on how you were recuperating but that there hasn't been any issues since. Going on and on about recent sicknesses and offering too much personal information that is irrelevant to the job at hand will not help you score points and could seem like you are trying to gain sympathy.

Don't ask about salaries or bonuses. It is advisable to not immediately ask what you will be making, bonuses or holiday benefits at your first interview. You should be telling the company what you can do for them and what you will be bringing to enhance the business.

What not to say in a business meeting or in the workplace

Don't say 'It's not my fault'. If you immediately try to shift blame from yourself and implicate others you will end up looking defensive.

Don't say 'I'll have to'. Saying you have to do something can indicate that what you are doing is a burden rather than a pleasure. Replace it with 'I'll be happy to' or I'd like to'.

Don't say 'I'll try to'. Instead say you 'will do', a definitive statement shows you are committed and hold yourself accountable.

Don't talk about what you got up to last night. Saying you were drunk last night or were up until the wee hours is unprofessional and will certainly be frowned upon in the workplace.

Don't speak out of turn. Speaking out of turn is rude and extremely disrespectful to the speaker. If you have something important or relevant to add wait until there is a lull in the conversation.

Don't whisper, gossip or make jokes during a meeting. A respectful attitude during a business meeting is essential and talking between yourselves will interrupt the proceedings. The speaker has put allot of effort into organizing the meeting and being disruptive will waste everyone's time.

Don't argue with others. A lively debate or disagreeing with a point of view is acceptable, you are after all trying to come up with solutions and new ideas. Needless arguing or in-fighting will cause people to become defensive and is disruptive.

Don't make sexist, racist, weightiest or religionist jokes at a business meeting. You would think that this is an obvious point, but you would be surprised how many of these unacceptable jokes slip into the workplace.

Don't say 'That's a problem'. You could say 'that's a challenge', it is far more positive and shows that you are aiming to get results.


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