8 Things You Shouldn't Say In A Job Interview

Most of us know that looking for a job can be a job in itself, but there are few things in life more dreaded than the job interview. Even if you remember to spit out your gum and offer a firm and confident handshake, there is a myriad of conversational land-mines which must be avoided. CNN in partnership with CareerBuilder has assembled 8 things that you shouldn’t say during a job interview. The list, inside…

8. “And another thing I hate…”
Rants are appropriate for your best friend or your blog, but not interviews. You don’t want to come across as a whiner.

7. “As Lady Macbeth so eloquently put it…”
Such statements could make your answers seem scripted, and if your pretentious reference flies over the head of your interviewer, you’ve just scored -1.

6. “Are you an active member in your church?”
If you are trying to make small-talk, you should avoid topics that may be controversial.

5. “How long until I get a promotion?”
Even though you may be goal oriented, such a question may come off as if you feel entitled or special. Try a more tactful way to get this information.

4. “I’m going to need to take these days off.”

If you say this too early in the interview process it may appear as though you are assuming you got the job.

3. “No, I don’t have any questions for you.”
This could indicate that you lack interest. Even if you have all the information you need, you should try to ask a few serious questions.

2. “I don’t know anything about the company.”

This might make your interviewer think you are too lazy to use Google.

1. “I hated my last boss.”
There is a fine line between honest person and trash-talker. Be careful how strongly you criticize your last employer.

8 worst things to say in an interview [CNN]


Edit Your Comment

  1. no.no.notorious says:

    well, there are plenty of other things you shouldn’t say at a job interview, but these are a good start

  2. ffmariners says:

    Common sense 101, it seems!

    I would love to be a hiring director just to see the idiots that do ask stupid questions like these, though.

  3. Cliff_Donner says:

  4. Machina says:

    #4 might not be too bad.

    I always have days ready I need to take off (although I was interviewing for 4 month internship) to let them know you are on top of your plans.

    That way I was able to say ‘Yes, I will be there everyday except days 2-3 months from now, which I already know’.

    Makes you seem like you are on top of things.

    Though, again, I was interviewing for a internship, where a few days off from 3-4 months make a difference.

  5. ffmariners says:

    @no.no.notorious: “Who is the hottie at the big desk in the corner office?”

  6. Bladefist says:

    What is your sexual harassment policy?

  7. wring says:

    I’ve been told not to say “I want to start my own business someday”. Y/N?

  8. Grive says:

    @ffmariners: Well, as Douglas Adams so eloquently put it…

    “The last time anybody made a list of the top hundred character attributes of New Yorkers, common sense snuck in at number 79”.

    Of course, it applies to humanity in general.

  9. Truthie says:

    I thought we all learned from the Weather Channel that the #1 thing not to ask is “Will you lick my swizzle stick?”

  10. HIV 2 Elway says:

    wait didn’t Geroge Carlin have a bit on this? Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, CockSucker, MotherFucker, and Tits?

  11. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    Forgot about salary, shouldnt talk about specific salary numbers unless the interviewer ties your hands. Typically something along the lines of “Comiserate with experence and job duties” is enough.

  12. ffmariners says:

    @wring: I could see that being a problem if they are looking for LT-ers. But for a job that is EXPECTING their employees to be ST… I don’t know if that would be a problem.

    The last company I worked for… they know they are a launch pad for many people so they probably wouldn’t care. The company I work at now… the average time a person in upper management has been there is like 18 years. So I would not tell them I intend to leave :p

  13. MissPeacock says:

    Whenever the interviewer asks me if I have any questions, I typically throw these out:

    Why was the position vacated?
    What is a typical day like for someone in this position?
    What is the atmosphere like in the office on a day-to-day basis?

    I think these are good, general questions that you can ask for pretty much any job you’re interviewing for.

    I actually just started my current job 3 months ago and I beat out several close friends who had also applied for and interviewed for it. One of them spent the entire interview complaining about her present job. Another HUGE no-no.

  14. phelander says:

    “Do y’all have a no shoes and socks policy?”
    “Do y’all care if I scoot in around 10ish?”
    “Do y’all have a snack machine? If I miss my 2:30 SuzieQ I go apeshit!”
    Anything with “Y’all” in it.

  15. You’re dumb if you say any of them but #3. That’s pretty common.

    A simple Google search of your company can give you some background information about them, and think of questions.

  16. Of course, if you really aren’t interested in that particular company, and just want to punch your ticket for unemployment, here ya go.

  17. Kaisum says:

    Don’t say Doing your wife don’t say Doing your wife

    Doing your….son?

  18. amyschiff says:

    @MissPeacock: I have asked similar ones.

    “What is the manager’s style?”
    “What type of deadlines are there?”
    “What types of opportunities for advancement are there?”

    Basically, you should come across as if you are interviewing THEM just as much as they are interviewing you. Ask questions that would help you decide whether the job/environment is a good fit for you personally.

  19. Pro-Pain says:

    Yo, how much you bitches pay to start out? Cuz I ain’t playin wit makin no chump change up in here yo…

  20. chenry says:

    Never say “I have to check with mother first”.

    Creepy-ass Norman Bates wannabe.

  21. PHX602 says:

    The shoe’s on the other foot for the lords of the manor. While this may be a buyer’s market for acquiring talent, far too many firms are taking a view from circa 1958, where an employee should be honored and groveling to work for the organization. It’s interesting, considering in the next few years, there will be a significant disparity between Baby Boomers leaving the workforce and Generation X and Y looking to advance.

    I posted this several months ago, but I think it still rings true….

    Having been through the interview circuit in recent years — mainly to leverage my academic and professional accomplishments at that particular time – here are 12 handy tidbits for HR professionals:

    1. In the phone screen, nothing is more aggravating than answering questions for the screener, only to hear the clickety-clack of the keyboard in the background. They invented paper and shorthand long before the computer. Even if you’re Mavis Beacon, you’re not going to catch everything I said by fiddling with your computerized interview system.

    2. If one has a candidate traveling from out-of-town for an interview, try not to arrange it in the middle of the week. Candidates do end up burning a vacation day if they’re traveling for an interview, and it’s nice to keep the disruption to a minimum. I personally prefer interviewing on a Monday, because it does give the opportunity to check out the potential city on Sunday.

    3. If an out-of-town candidate is being brought in, please try to get that candidate a rental car. It gives the candidate the chance to check out the city and get a feel for the metro location, and doesn’t confine them to the hotel room like Andy Dufresne.

    4. Speaking of the hotel, make sure it’s centrally billed (same for the rental car and plane tickets). Nothing is more gauche than having the candidate pay for the room on their credit card, only to chase down the reimbursement check later.

    5. If an interview schedule of interviewers and titles is available, please send it beforehand, and make sure the listed individuals are actually going to BE THERE that day. It allows the candidate to customize any questions they have about the position to that interviewer. Having to rearrange the schedule six times on the day of the interview because of vacations, last minute meetings, presentations, et al, is a pretty good indicator your organization doesn’t have a clue.

    6. If the hiring manager is making or intent on making fundamental changes in the group, please do not have “old guard” members on the interview list. They have their turf to defend, and will sabotage any candidates they view as a threat to their job stability.

    7. If a candidate is being taken to lunch, places that involve ribs are not recommended. Neither are sports bars, pizza joints, and Denny’s (the latter really happened to me once).

    8. Because a candidate cannot go into absolute specifics about the current job, it’s not because the candidate is being evasive, it’s because one may have a confidentiality agreement with the incumbent company. Although one may be looking to leave, it’s still a matter of ethics and professionalism. You would expect the potential employee to safeguard your organization’s intellectual property and trade secrets.

    9. The question “tell me about yourself,” is the lamest and most unoriginal question in the history of humanity. (“Where do you see yourself in five years” is a close second.) Interviewers should be sent to an interview skills class before talking to any candidate. Try to show a shred of originality and ask job-specific or problem solving-specific questions, instead of asking about greatest strengths and weaknesses…oops…areas for improvement.

    10. Innocent questions regarding relocation requirements are borderline illegal. You may want to dig in your desk drawer (probably sandwiched between the orientation book and the benefits manual from three years ago) and check that handy guide to legal/illegal questions. Oh, and don’t play that cost-of-living card as an excuse to lowball on salary. We have access to the same data you have (and probably other sources you don’t have).

    11. I follow up with a written thank you note and an email within days of the interview, and THAT’S IT. I am a professional and not a stalker. I am not a bill collector or mafia loan shark either. If there’s an expense report, pay it promptly (four months after the fact does not count as prompt). If a company is rude or unprofessional to a candidate, it will get out. Vault.com is a great place for horror stories.

    12. If the decision is made not to hire a candidate, send a note for closure as a matter of professional courtesy. A stamp is $0.42 and email is free. Personally, I’m not going to cry myself to sleep because you didn’t hire me.

  22. Spyrojoe says:

    @silencedotcom: I disagree. (It’s a common mistake, maybe.) It might not kill your chances as badly as other missteps, but you should still ask questions.

  23. Elcheecho says:

    i thought assuming the sale was a good thing

  24. Televiper says:

    @amyschiff: Stuff like that also gives the interviewer something to chew on. It shows a bit of enthusiasm. Which is important for engineering jobs.

  25. sketchy says:

    @ffmariners: If it’s common sense there would be no ‘101’. ‘101’ refers to a basic University or College course which in turn suggest that it is not common sense at all.

    Try asking things like:

    When can I expect to hear back from you?
    Can I contact you?
    Are there many people competing for this job?
    Is there anything I could have done better in the interview?

    They indicate that you are interested while not asking or presuming you got the job. They are ‘self’ focused so they should be asked after the organizational questions.

  26. rjgnyc says:

    I can’t believe they didn’t mention not showing up to the interview wearing the skinned flesh of ten abandoned babies while revving your chainsaw.

    Everyone knows that’s for follow up interviews.

  27. rjgnyc says:

    @PHX602: “10. Innocent questions regarding relocation requirements are borderline illegal.”

    How is that illegal, or even borderline illegal?

  28. Skankingmike says:

    As somebody who interviews.

    My biggest pet peeve goes out to you younger people. Do not have a custom ring tone that i have to hear. I don’t know what company it is but they have it so the caller hears the ring tone as well. It’s unprofessional bottom line.

    If you show up in disheveled attire you loose a lot of points take some pride in yourself and wear nice clothes.

  29. orielbean says:


    Only ten? You’re no professional…

  30. Jesse says:

    Compensation questions are always tricky ones to answer and generally not good questions ask either.

  31. milk says:

    When someone comes into our interview wearing jeans, they automatically lose my recommendation. Two guys have actually worn caps and not even taken it off during the questioning.

    Our job posting have detailed information regarding salary and duties. It irks me when they ask how much they’ll get paid and said, “I don’t know” when we ask what they think the job will entail based on the information in the posting.

    The absolute best, though, is when people say 1) they have no weaknesses or 2) perfectionism is their weakness. I love it.

  32. anthonyhasp says:

    Do tell them things about yourself that they can’t ask, but would like to know. Like: married? have kids? This helped me get my current job because they wanted someone who would like to live in a smaller, family-friendly city and would be willing to settle down there.

    If you get an interview, you’ve met the basic requirements for the job, they just want to know if you can think on your feet and if your personality meshes well with theirs. Keep this in mind during the interview. Be yourself. Don’t be nervous. Dress a little better than the people working there.

  33. Balisong says:

    I was recently interviewed for a full-time position at the place I’m temping at. What would you say when they ask if you have any questions in that situation? I already know what the job entails and what the boss is like – I’ve been doing the job for two months! Got the job anyway but I felt silly when I didn’t have any questions to ask…

  34. Juggernaut says:

    “Will I have access to the Consumerist website?” & “Where the white women at?”

  35. KyleOrton says:

    @chenry: A family friend was telling me that some kids out of college have been bringing their parents to interviews (or maybe it’s the other way around). And this isn’t absolute bottom of the barrel starter jobs either, his specific example was an entry-level engineer position at 3M.

    Those candidates were IMMEDIATELY put at the end of the list. I assume the hiring manager felt if a person can’t be trusted to interview without mommy, they can’t be trusted to work without her. But shit, I figure she might bring cookies for the whole office every week. Maybe meatloaf too.

  36. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Also, don’t be a total freakshow.

    @Balisong: I have to assume they only asked if you had any questions just in case. I don’t think anyone can reasonably expect questions when you’re just trying to get the same job full time.

  37. HIV 2 Elway says:

    Ask for the job at the end of the interview. Show them that you want it.

  38. Jesse says:


    You make a couple good points.

    1) Make sure to shut the cell phone off. I always left mine in the car when interviewing last year.

    2) Look presentable. You don’t need to go out and drop $500+ on a suit and you don’t need a different colored suit for each interview either. For men out of college, one from Men’s Warehouse or equivalent will do just fine.

    Most employers don’t care and are sympathetic to recent college grads for example that you don’t have an extensive wardrobe. You probably don’t want to work for them if your clothing inventory is a qualification. Just make sure to have a few different color ties though.

    3) Don’t be someone your not. Everyone wants the job, but try and be as genuine and honest as you can. It will benefit both you and your future employer.

  39. rjgnyc says:

    @orielbean: I don’t like to seem too desperate. Anything over ten shows that you’re trying too hard.

    On a serious note, a more useful article would be “things to say”, not “things not to say”

    At least the first list would be shorter and more helpful for those with common sense.

  40. Carl3000 says:

    People didn’t know this stuff? Thanks for giving away my edge on the competition, cnn.

  41. timmus says:

    “Yo, dog, what floor the hos work on?”

  42. HIV 2 Elway says:

    @Jesse: I don’t even think you need a suit. A black sport coat that fits you well is all you need. I always go dark (not black) dress slacks, freshly pressed shirt, no tie and black sport coat. Ties look too stuffy on youths.

  43. battra92 says:

    Usually I ask questions all through the interview so at the end they always asked “Any questions” and I would just ask for a recap on a few points, even if I knew it already.

    Best advice I can say.

  44. HugsFromHarold says:

    9. “Is this a pants optional workpalce?”

  45. Robobot says:

    I can’t believe someone being INTERVIEWED would ask #6. Interviewees I talk to really want to avoid those topics, but it’s the employers who always bring them up. I have pretty decent interviewing chops and I have never interviewed for a job and not gotten it, but those religious and political questions give me the cold sweats during interviews.

    Even the individuals at my last job who agreed with our employer’s leanings (think Jesus Camp, but more conservative!) said they felt uncomfortable during those talks.

  46. RokMartian says:

    One of my standard questions when I am interviewing is “What do you like least about your current job”. One time, an interviewee said “I hate to say it, but its working with women”. I kid you not.

    He was the best worker we ever had.

    I’m kidding! (Obviously, we didn’t hire him)

  47. htrodblder says:

    I know this sounds silly, but bring a damn PEN. When someone asks to fill out an application, and needs a pen, we give them a pencil, that way we know they came unprepared. Yes its childish and hokey, but it does work…..

  48. PHX602 says:

    @rjgnyc: That starts probing into what you have for a family, living situation, etc. Depending on what is required for relo, you’re at a disadvantage if you’re married with kids and a house than if you’re single and rent.

  49. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    I had an interview once and the weakness question came up. I said “kryptonite” to get the laugh, and then followed up with a serious answer. (And I honestly answer with dyslexia)

  50. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    PHX602 – how’s the job market in the valley anyway? I know the housing market’s in the toilet.

  51. Televiper says:

    @Balisong: In that position I would tell them what the questions are and how they were answered.

  52. PHX602 says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: Not worth a shit, hence the reason I bailed in early ’05 for other locations!

  53. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    I once had an interviewee for an internship at a former job request a salary that was 3x the salary I was making.

    He actually said his number during the interview and I laughed.

  54. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    @PHX602: Crap. I was considering moving there, the hospitality biz is always hiring, isn’t it?

  55. MissPeacock says:

    Another thing I always do is bring an extra copy or two of my resume with me. I’ve been interviewed by several people at once (totally nerve-wracking) and inevitably someone doesn’t have a copy of my resume, so it’s nice to be able to hand them one.

  56. Sanveann says:

    Not an interview story, but we once had a cover letter from a woman who listed “Top 10 reasons you should hire me.” It was kind of a cute idea — it was for a creative position — except that one of them was “I have a great a$$.” Seriously.

    She did get an interview — more because everyone was curious as to WHO would put that in a cover letter than anything else, I think — but wasn’t hired. I never heard if her butt was anything special.

  57. Jesse says:

    @HIV 2 Elway:

    Your right, it always depends on the position.

    I was speaking from experience since my interviews were for accounting positions at CPA firms and other companies last year. Accounting & finance dress is still rather conservative.

  58. Amalas says:

    @PHX602: I completely agree that interviewers shouldn’t ask the loaded question “where do you see yourself in 5/10 years.” I had that asked once, and I had to answer honestly “I want to be a mom with kids, probably not working full time.” I’m sure it cost me the job, but at least it was the truth. In my opinion, the fact that I want to leave the full-time workforce in 5 years has absolutely no bearing on how hard I’m going to work in the meantime. In fact, I would say that I am working harder now than I would if I wasn’t interested in having kids.

  59. axiomatic says:

    #9. “Wanna Shag?”

  60. wgrune says:


    I would literally laugh in someone’s face if they brought one of their parents (or anyone for that matter) to a job interview. Is mommy going to type up your TPS reports for you too?

    I am 24 years old and the quality/types of people currently entering the workforce make me fear for the future…

  61. lalaland13 says:

    Ahh this brings back memories-some good. Some not. Once a would-be employer called and said they liked my resume but couldn’t afford to bring me in, so would I by chance be able to travel several states away on my own dime?

    No. The answer was no.

  62. br549xt93 says:

    Many many years ago I got an interview at Blockbuster (yeah, I know) and they asked me the weirdest question ever:

    ‘If the world was ending tomorrow, what would you do?’

    Now, how the hell do you answer that? I think they wanted me to say, ‘sitting on my ass watching movies I rented from Blockbuster.’ Yeah, right. I think that’s the last thing I’d be doing. Who thinks of this shit?

  63. venterminator says:

    Here is how you handle the weaknesses question:

    “What do you consider your weaknesses, Mr. Venturi?”

    Take a deep breath. Furrow your brow. Then answer with cold precision:


  64. incognit000 says:

    Job interviews are fundamentally dishonest and require you to hide the truth from people who have to judge you from top to bottom in a matter of minutes. I don’t think it’s possible to do one right, from either end. You just gotta do the best and hope.

  65. ScarletsWalk says:

    Not part of the official interview, but be nice to the receptionist and anyone else in the office you might run across.

    I sat near my boss’s office and did some reception and anyone who was rude and unprofessional? As soon as they left we all would tell my boss. If they can’t keep from being openly hostile to potential coworkers, they’re probably not going to be good going to potential customers.

  66. @HIV 2 Elway: Depends on the industry, obviously. I can’t IMAGINE not interviewing in a suit, and I certainly wouldn’t take seriously someone who tried in my industry.

    As for stuffy ties? Shop for better ties! Young men in full business dress can look tres chic and sleek, and it definitely looks more polished than business casual. (And frankly, sexier.)

    My husband has a brilliant eye for ties (mine’s only so-so) and constantly gets asked by people from 18 to 80 where he got that awesomely stylish tie. (the answers vary from Kohl’s to a bespoke shop in London to an artist in Cali who hand silkscreens ties for punk bands ….)

  67. @Amalas: I, OTOH, do not have five-year plans and never have. All the best things in my life have been things I never had any idea I’d be doing — going to a Catholic college, going south of the Mason-Dixon for grad school, getting married at 24, working for a newspaper, sitting on the board of an agricultural organization … I wouldn’t have guessed a one of them, but they all turned out awesome. I HATE that question because the answer is “I have no idea, but I’m sure it’ll be interesting and a result of taking advantage of some random thing that comes up.”

  68. Mudpuddle says:

    When they asked me the weakness question I always say that I am not that patient with people who show up to work late alot.
    And if they ask me my strengths I say; “its my ability to assess situations accurately and if I am unable to assess the situation then its my ability to ask the right people questions.”

  69. rjgnyc says:

    @br549xt93: “Now, how the hell do you answer that?”

    Take the day off. What are they going to do, fire you?

  70. mac-phisto says:

    @PHX602: awesome points. unfortunately, they don’t usually stash the sharp pencils in the HR drawer, now do they?

    frankly, i’m getting tired of these pre-application “personality tests” that i’ve been encountering lately:

    #243) tommy fell in the lake & drowned
    -i agree
    -i somewhat agree
    -i somewhat disagree
    -i disagree

    THAT DOESN’T EVEN MAKE ANY SENSE! is i’m going to strangle whoever thought this was a good idea a valid response?

  71. RandomHookup says:

    As much as people hate lame interview questions, they aren’t going away. The “tell me about yourself…” is simply an opening to deliver your well-rehearsed story, talking about the highlight you want to. Make the most of it.

    Oh, and the clicking on the keyboard isn’t an online recruiting system…I’m checking my email and commenting on Consumerist.

    Question never to ask: So what do I have to do to convince you to hire me? (from a fresh-out-of-college woman to definitely middle aged me) Accentuate by leaning over to show off your ample cleavage.

  72. Robert_SF says:


    re: temp asked if they have any questions when interviewing for perm position

    You might consider asking questions about the business climate and any changes anticipated or possible for the position in the next year or so (example: expanded responsibilities, changes in management). Here you could bring up your research some and say, How do you see such-and-such trend, news, or event you read about, affecting the business and this position. Of course, this presumes you will be doing some research.

    Also, about skills or special needs the company may need in the near future, so to anticipate areas you can strengthen or bring to table for growth within the company.

    Just some ideas…


  73. xsmasher says:

    You have to know how to work the room –

    CHUCKIE : A retainer. Nobody in this town works without a retainer. You think you can find someone who does, you have my blessin’. But I think we all know that person isn’t going to represent you as well as I can.

    EXECUTIVE: Will, our offer starts you at eighty- four thousand a year, plus benefits.

    CHUCKIE: Re-tain-er!

    EXECUTIVE: You want us to give you cash right now?

    CHUCKIE: Allegedly, what I am saying is your situation will be concurrently improved if I had two hundred sheets in my pocket right now.

  74. MercuryPDX says:

    I don’t think #4 is bad to mention. We had a new hire neglect to mention he was getting married and taking a two week honeymoon the week he was scheduled to start. It was quite a circus to reschedule orientation, training, etc. and it was not looked upon as responsible.

    @PHX602: 11 and 12 are key in your list. When I was dealing with recruiters it was very annoying to have to chase them down for information.

  75. bobbleheadr says:

    Actually I have no problem with 4 or 5.

    Full disclosure is always best. If you know that you will need a day off early in your employment it is best to disclose it up front, rather then wait till the offer is made and then dropping it on the company.

    With 5, I always asked what the growth potential of a position was. What is the chain up from the position and what time frame they expect people to progress. Obviously in some companies that question is pointless, but most employers looked at that positively.

    Oh, and when they ask for your biggest weakness, do not say “I try to hard” or “I care too much about my job”. HR reps HATE that shit. Give them a legitimate weakness and what you do to overcome it. Me, I tell them I tend to be unorganized, but then show them my planner and an example of my personal filing system (I create my own tracking docs). It winds up being a selling point.

  76. Jesse says:


    The worst question I had to answer last year was for a tax position at a large nationwide construction & engineering company. The question was “Why do you want to go into tax vs. auditing?”

    Coming straight out of college with zero real world accounting experience, I honestly couldn’t answer that, but tried, and subsequently did not get the job.


    If you want to see an extensive personality test try applying at Gallup.

  77. HIV 2 Elway says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: I’m with an engineering firm. 90% of engineers have little to no fashion sense so often, less is more.

  78. macinjosh says:

    8. “And another thing I hate…”

    So I guess it’s OK to say “One thing I hate…” :)

  79. facingtraffic says:

    This is great! I’m interviewing for my first job out of college tomorrow, although I have to say that the list is completely common sense. I had the phone pre-screen, so next step is an interview with pretty much everyone that I would have to answer to, about 4 other people if I remember correctly. That’s the only aspect of the interview that makes me nervous…any suggestions or comments regarding that?

  80. MercuryPDX says:

    @mac-phisto: I took that test before. The answer is “I disagree”, and in the explanation box you have to write “He didn’t fall in, he was pushed!” ;)

  81. TangDrinker says:

    Another tip –

    Be prepared before the interview. If the HR department sends you an application to fill out, before the interview, FILL IT OUT BEFORE THE INTERVIEW. I interviewed 6 candidates for a professional, Master’s degree -required job last year, and NOT ONE OF THEM filled out the application, even though it was communicated that we needed it filled out in order to proceed with background checks, etc if the interview was a success (the docs were shredded if they weren’t hired).

    Having each candidate fill out the applications at the office before I could interview them wasted at least 30 minutes of time.

  82. evilcharity says:

    As an HR professional, I can’t stress enough how important number 3 is. If you don’t ask a question you really do come across as lacking in enthusiasm and interest in the position. I would say that almost all of the worst interviews I’ve ever conducted have concluded with the interviewee not asking any questions at the end. It really makes the interview seem flat and end with a thud.

  83. @HIV 2 Elway: :D Yes, I can’t think of that many engineers I’ve seen in suits!

  84. Mina_da_mad_child says:

    a href=”#c6368889″>Cliff_Donner:
    Don’t forget to wear clean clothes@

  85. LionelEHutz says:

    Always ask about the TPS reports.

  86. mac-phisto says:

    @TangDrinker: wait, you wanted me to fill out this form? oh. i thought i would be showcasing my dictating abilities to you as part of the interview process.

  87. Trai_Dep says:

    “How carefully does your IS Dep’t monitor which sites employees visit?”
    “Do your restroom doors lock from the inside? Comfortably fit two?”
    “Your no-smoking indoors policy doesn’t include da ganja, right? RIGHT?!!”
    Wow. Has anyone told you that you’ve got great tits?”
    “…So, have you heard about Ron Paul?”

  88. MercuryPDX says:

    @evilcharity: It really makes the interview seem flat and end with a thud.

    Whenever I’ve experienced that, or we discovered very early on that the candidate was not a good fit, we gave them “the tour” and showed them around the different areas of the office. That was our HR signal that the candidate was not going to work out:

    “Here’s John Smith to close out the interview with you. We just gave him a tour of the office.”

  89. mac-phisto says:

    @facingtraffic: pretend they’re all in their underoos.

  90. kJeff says:

    Years ago I went in for an interview and at the time it was for a job that I really didn’t care for, description-wise. I was unemployed though and interviewing like crazy. They made me wait in the lobby for 45 minutes after appointment time before bringing me in to interview, and at this point I really wasn’t interested in the job and felt they were kind of rude for making me wait. So I was feeling a little surly.

    I was asked “What is your worst work habit?”

    My response was “I really don’t ever get any work done on Fridays after lunch. I’m pretty much mentally checked out for the week by then.”.

    He sat back, chuckled, and moved on to the next question.

    A few days later his admin emailed me and said I got the job. He said that my response to that one question told him that I had the type of personality he wanted for the position.

    Two years later, I’m still working here and doing quite well. They gave me a huge raise (about 25%) after a year and additionally a big end-of-year bonus.

  91. facingtraffic says:

    Ok, here’s a question! So I’m an audio engineer and a musician, and I have those silly gauged earrings. They’re not ridiculously huge, but they are significantly larger than a normal pierced ear. Should I take them out and leave the hole?

  92. Trai_Dep says:

    [Staring for an inappropriately long time at the family picture behind the interviewing exec]
    “Whoa, you have cute kids. You bring those hotties in for Daughters At Work Day, right?”

  93. Jesse says:


    Just don’t do any of these:


  94. rodeobob says:

    From my own experience….

    *Find out what the dress code is. If the company is formal, and you show up in business casual, you look unprofessional. if the dress code is biz-cas and you show up in a suit, you look like a photocopier salesman and it may create an intially akward air. If you’re dressed the way they’re dressed, it works in your favor. It rarely hurts to be over-dressed, but it always hurts to be under-dressed.

    *Find out the salary range. Asking “what the job pays” is a bad question during the interview, but it’s OK to get a pay range for the position prior to the interview. After all, if the pay isn’t high enough for you to consider the job, interviewing is a waste of everyone’s time.

    *Research the company, even a little. Google means you’ve got no excuses not to know something. You don’t have to read the annual stockholder’s report, but you should know what the company does to make money at least, and what kind of things THEY think are important to put on their website and/or publicize.

    *Know your own resume’. This may sound silly, but if you put something on your resume’, it’s fair game for the interviewer to ask about it. In fact, the interviewer is going to assume that most everything on your resume’ is somehow relevant to the position you’re interviewing for.

    Have two copies of your resume’, along with a pen and pad of paper for taking notes.

    Always have questions. (I usually write them out on my pad of paper, and take notes beneath them) The questions can be generic (“tell me what a typical day is like”) or tailored to the company based on your research. (“I saw on your website that you’re doing X, what do you see happening with X in the future?”) You don’t have to wait for the end of the interview to ask quesitons. In fact, it’s best if you don’t; it’s fine to have a few questions to close with, but asking questions throughout the interview fundamentally changes the tone of the meeting. If they ask you questions for 20-40 minutes with you answering, and then you ask questions for 5-10 minutes with them answering, it’s an “interview”; if you psend 25-50 minutes talking back & forth, exchanging questions and information, then it’s a “conversation”.

    If you haven’t done your research, and you get asked “What do you know about this company/position/industry?”, the best pivot you have is to respond with “Well, I’ve done a little research, but why don’t YOU tell me what YOU think is important to know for this position?” It’s a very good pivot, and works on a few levels; even if you HAVE done research, it’s not a bad reply… just modify it to “Well, I know X, Y, & Z, but why don’t you tell me…”

    Have your anecdotes ready beforehand. Behavioral interviewing is quite common, so you should expect to be asked questions that include the phrases “can you think of a time when…” or “describe a situation where you experienced…” Have your ‘learning experiences’ selected and rehearsed before you step into the interview. If you have to pause when you’re asked for a situation where you were set to a task and failed, it’s akward; if you have to pause when asked about your last tough challenge, it’s bad.

  95. AgentTuttle says:

    If you don’t hire me, you are really stoopid.

  96. induscreed says:

    to everyone who uses “perfectionist” as a weakness actually thinking that is a strength in disguise.

    Isnt this so cliche?

    Besides for most people who call themselves as being perfectionists its usually that they are anal, must have it their way, are so caught up in the details that by the time the big picture is figured out youve gone over budget and time and as bosses tend to be micro managers?

  97. TheRealAbsurdist says:

    I was on a panel for a sales position. The dimwit in charge of HR handed everyone who interviewed his cigarette lighter, then proceeded to ask “Sell me this lighter.”

    The person who actually got the job looked at the lighter, put it in his pocket, and said “For $10 you can have your lighter back.” Actually made him pay it too.

  98. Balisong says:

    @Televiper: In that position I would tell them what the questions are and how they were answered.

    Hmm. Nice! I like that idea :)

  99. TorrentFreak says:

    When you ask stupid questions as an interviewer in an interview you are going to get stupid answers.

    What are your strengths and weakness is the stupidest. You know everyone is going to talk bull shit to you. Do you think anyone actually answers that question truthfully and honestly? Come on now.

    Also, I like how employers always ask if they can contact a former employer. ALWAYS answer yes, because they never do unless you put no.

    Also, I hate when I get asked in an interview where I have lived, my hobbies, what my credit is like, and who my friends are. That is none of your fucking buisness. Is it an interview or am I apply for a credit card?

  100. Mina_da_mad_child says:

    I do alot of freelance work (tv and event production) and was asked “When was the last time you had a real job?”

    Nutsack can kiss my left cheek. When was the last time you managed a $35+million budget?
    This was after they wanted permission for a credit and criminal background check.


  101. Indecent says:

    4. “I’m going to need to take these days off.”

    There’s been a couple different times when looking to switch jobs that I needed to be upfront about time I needed off soon after taking the job. A cousin’s wedding in another state, for example, that was happening only a month after my start date. I wouldn’t say it the way they did, but I’d rather my potential employer know that I had future plans and factor them into my hiring than make them feel blindsided but announcing it the week after I get the job. “Thanks for hiring me! I need to take time off.”

  102. MercuryPDX says:

    [Apologies if this is a double post]
    @TorrentFreak: Is it an interview or am I apply for a credit card?

    IIRC, it’s to gauge how financially responsible you are in the event you’re going to be in charge of project budgets.

    It can also be used to as an integrity check.
    eg. You’re $50K in credit card debt, and a competitor approaches you with $50K in exchange for sensitive company information. You might be considered a risk.

  103. Zimorodok says:

    When interviewing, I’ve never failed to get a positive response out of the question, “How do you measure success here? What would you say makes a successful employee?”

  104. sam1am says:

    Good suggestions, but let’s be honest – if you don’t have the common sense required to assume these, you’ve got bigger problems than looking for a job.

  105. Balisong says:

    @mac-phisto: Funny thing is, I’ve worked with people who took and passed those personality tests, and they were horrible workers. None of those questions have anything to do with how well you work – they’re all about how happy and upbeat and carefree you are. So since these test-passers are so carefree and happy, they don’t care if they do anything wrong at the job. I am a damn fine worker and have never passed one of those things in my life. I once had an interview with a store’s manager, who was falling all over himself about how great I was and let’s get me started as soon as possible. Took the test – failed – no hire. Total BS.

  106. Myrddraal says:

    Stare intently at family photo of interviewer and after interview ask if Daughter/Son is single (younger is better here folks) if they have no children then ask if they swing.

  107. mac-phisto says:

    @Balisong: yeah, that pretty much sums up my entire issue with HR as a whole. they try to compartmentalize everything & as a result, they’ve created the very workforce that’s responsible for a majority of complaints on this site.

    tests are shit. stock interview questions are shit. that “take me to lunch to see if i offer you the bread first” nonsense is shit.

    & so, when you ask me “where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?” it doesn’t really matter what i actually say. what i’m thinking is vice president of your division, firing your stupid ass for asking ridiculous questions that result in hiring inept employees.

  108. TorrentFreak says:


    People don’t take bribes for info because they need to pay bills they do it because they are greedy.

    bad credit doesn’t make you dishonest nor does it mean you are a bad worker.

  109. Landru says:

    @me and the sysop: “What is your biggest weakness?” is my all time most hated question. What do they expect people to say: “Deadlines a problem for me.” “I’m afraid of people” “Blondes”?

    @rodeobob: A while ago I interviewed for at a job at Clorox and it was fine until they asked if they could perform a “Behavioral Interview”. It was the weirdest thing I ever sat through and I just about walked out. I guess they might learn a lot about interviewees (I can just hear some VP asking HR “Well, didn’t you ask her if she was a serial killer before you hired her?”) but it made me decide I didn’t want to work there. I didn’t go back for the second interview.

  110. RandomHookup says:

    @Landru: If I hit the “biggest weakness” question, it means your answers were so short and uninspiring that I have run out of things to ask you. I’m pretty sure I’ve been out of good questions at the 7 minute mark before.

  111. MercuryPDX says:

    @TorrentFreak: bad credit doesn’t make you dishonest nor does it mean you are a bad worker.

    I completely agree…. just saying those are the pat answers for why they want your credit info.

  112. MercuryPDX says:

    @TorrentFreak: From Yahoo ( [hotjobs.yahoo.com] )

    A growing number of employers are asking to see prospective new-hires’ credit files when determining who can be trusted to handle cash, clients’ sensitive information, or valuable property.

    You can prepare yourself by checking your credit report before you head out for your first interview. Make sure the information in your credit file is up-to-date before your future boss sees it.

    Now, many employers use credit reports when screening for good character and they need your written consent to obtain a copy of your report.

    Again… I don’t agree with the practice, just giving you the “Why”.

  113. InsaneNewman says:

    @induscreed: re: Perfectionism as weakness

    This is arguably the lamest answer in the history of interviewing. It’s as if they expect me to say, “Wow, this guy works too hard. I would actually love to hire someone who works too hard. If that is his weakness, he must be a superstar!”

    Nothing like a former recruiting director to tell it like it is: [www.jobbound.com]

  114. Balisong says:

    @MercuryPDX: Awful. I agree that your credit has nothing to do with how you work. My mother filed bankruptcy in the past and my brother never remembers to pay his bills, but they’re both fantastic workers (as long as my brother doesn’t have a job that requires him to think too hard).

    My newest applying for a job pet peeve is references. Noone allows them to be given anymore because of legal issues, but everyone wants them when you apply. This job I just got required them, yet doesn’t allow them to be given out! I was so desperate I had to call up people I worked with in retail 5 years ago, which makes me look ridiculous to the job I’m applying to.

  115. I'm a tweeple too! says:

    A way to dodge the compensation question early on, a trick to weed out those who are going to ask more than they want to pay prior to discovering your The One You Really Want.

    “I’d like to discuss compensation after we both decide that I’m a candidate for the final round.” or some such deflection that lets the interviewer know you’re not going to say but you’re not standing firm on a number.

    Also, please add don’t use street lingo/slang or shorthand language. I actually interviewed someone who when I said something they thought was funny “that’s LOL!” saying LOL as it were a word. Try to use complete sentences in a language that most of the business world, in America, would comprehend.

    Asking for the time frame for decisions and asking if there is another round or is this the decision making round is appropriate. It tells me that the person is interested, saying that as you leave is also information I’d welcome, and it also tells me that the person understands that there may be more than one layer to the job i.e. management etc.

    But as someone else wrote, dress up, even if you’re interviewing for an entry level position, dress one level up from what you want. Don’t wear jeans, I don’t care if they’re $200 and have some designers name on the ass. If we are a casual office when you get the job, then please dress as you are comfortable – within the limits of the office please.

  116. I'm a tweeple too! says:


    In California (I don’t know about other states) you have the right to obtain free copies of anything the employer uses to make the final decision. Credit reports, background checks etc.

    There should be a check box and if not write on the form you wish a copy, when you receive these documents READ THEM CAREFULLY, if anything on their is incorrect or potentially damaging contact the employer to explain.

    Don’t know if that 3-5 stint for drug running is easily explained but who knows honesty may work to your advantage. You can always say you learnt new skills.

  117. rodeobob says:

    “People don’t take bribes for info because they need to pay bills they do it because they are greedy.”

    Actually, people tend to steal from companies/take bribes/commit fraud because of a combination of three factors: opportunity, motive, and rationalization. (I’m an accountant, and yes, we do study these things) Employers can and do limit opportunities for losses, but motive & rationalizations occur purely within the employee’s sphere of influence.

    A prospective employee with a large amount of “bad” (high-interest, unsecured) debt has some level of motive to commit fraud/steal/take bribes. The larger their debt load is, the more motive they would have to steal. An astonishing number of employee thefts start small (“I just need a little cash to cover me until payday”) and snowball.

    A prospective employee with a history of defaulting on debts **may** indicate a willingness to rationalize bad behavior in not repaying debt. Combined with a high current debt load, that scenario I just mentioned becomes increasingly likely.

    Now the disclaimer: the above concerns should ONLY apply to potential employees who would have the OPPORTUNITY to steal/commit fraud/otherwise take money from the company. Salesperson? Probably. Filing clerk? Not so much so. Administrative assistant? Depends, do they have access to Petty Cash or the company credit card? Computer Engineer? Probably not. Lead Computer Engineer on top secret project? Probably yes.

  118. solipsistnation says:

    As far as 3 goes:

    When they ask if I have any questions, I often find that a prepared interviewer will already have answered them or I’ve asked them along the way. I never just say “No,” though. I’ll usually give it a moment of thought and at least say “I think you answered most of them as we went along.” Usually just saying that will kick my memory a bit, though, so then I can segue into “Oh, I did want to ask…”

    But if not, at least I sound like I started with questions, rather than simply being devoid of curiosity.

    Oh, and there’s always this: [thedailywtf.com]

  119. celestebai says:

    @battra92: That would depend. Do some research on the company. Call ahead or speak to a receptionist when you pick up an application, they’re usually more then willing to let you in on dress code tips and policies. Where I work, women are still required to wear nylons, they could only wear slacks starting 2 years ago, and men are ALWAYS in ties. If you show up in a top-button-undone and no-tie here, you won’t make a good impression.

  120. mac-phisto says:

    @rodeobob: correlation does not imply causation.

    presuming that people with bad credit are thieves is akin to presuming that because i have a mohegan sun players’ card, i’m going to steal $10 million from my employer (incidentally, “owning mahoney” is on my short-list of “best movies of all time”).

  121. Superawesomerad says:

    Is there an easier job than writing these listicles for CareerBuilder?

  122. halo969 says:

    Seriously, who would say any of these things? That article is helpful only to the clueless. And honestly, who wants those people to get hired in the first place? ;) Let’s talk about the 8 things most reasonable and intelligent people would think to say but shouldn’t.

    Regarding the days off thing – that’s discussed when you’re offered the job. Anytime before that is premature and assuming which makes you come off as a self-important (not to mention lazy) jerk. Once you have the offer, however, you can negotiate that just like anything else before you accept. Sheesh.

  123. bobbleheadr says:

    @mac-phisto: When I was hiring for sales people the credit check was important. When someone came in claiming that they made 100k plus in commissions the last 3 years but had multiple credit card collections it sent up major red flags. The biggest thing with credit/background check is TELL THEM FIRST. You had a BK two years ago? Tell me when you hand me the credit authorization. You have a criminal issue tell me during the interview. It doesnt disqualify you when you tell me in advance.

  124. DrGirlfriend says:

    If you burp during an interview, at least have the decency to apologize and look embarassed.

    And that’s not a hypothetical, either.

  125. KarmaChameleon says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: The job market here sucks ass unless you are looking to work as a cube drone in a call center. And even those jobs are drying up. One of the many reasons I’m moving back East.

  126. mowglicub says:

    Do the secrataries give hand jobs here? My last office was a cup of coffe and a happy ending.

  127. DrGirlfriend says:

    @Superawesomerad: Oh man, no kidding. Easiest gig ever.

    Ways to Get a Promotion, by CareerBuilder:
    1) Get a job. Without a job, you can’t get promoted.
    2) Work hard. You may find that being a lazy sack of crap can be a turnoff to employers.
    3) Come up with good ideas. Good ideas are good.
    4) Don’t be a jerk to people. If you are, you won’t be liked.
    5) Apply for the position when your company lists it. Nothing worse than not getting a promotion because you didn’t apply! Remember, the hiring manager can’t read your mind.
    6) Attend the interview. If not, chances are you may miss your opportunity.
    7) Wear clean clothes for your interview. Being dirty and stinky can sometimes be a turnoff.
    8) Say thank you at the end of the interview. This goes along with not being a jerk.
    9) Don’t go to your current boss and say, “I’m outta here, a-hole!” That may cause a bad impression.
    10) Make sure your phone works so that when they call you to offer the promotion, you can accept. Also, remember to say yes, if you don’t, you won’t get that promotion you worked so hard for!

  128. TorrentFreak says:


    That’s ridiculous. Credit scores have nothing to do with character. I mean you read consumerist for Christ’s sake, so you should know how many times people get screwed over on FICA scores. It mean diddily squat. You should look at the person not their relative FICA score that may or may not be in their control. What matters most is what your friends and family think of you. That is what translates to good work ethic.

    Stupid rules like needing a credit score for a job is just a bull shit rule they use to filter people in an arbritary way when there are many applicants.

    I would bet good money crime bosses and gangsters have amazing credit. Doesnt mean you should trust them.

  129. thisrancidrye says:

    @facingtraffic: if you’re rocking visible piercings or ink, cover, remove, or downplay them. Long-sleeve shirts have gotten me a thousand jobs (just subscribe to the Brian Setzer rule of “No tattoos where the judge can see’em”). Most piercings come out easy, but if you’re styling gauges, choose a conservative pair: no bright colors, no translucents, no fleshtunnels. Find an opaque, solid pair that go well with your skin tone and hair color so that they are not distracting. High-contrast/color/shiny items will draw attention from what you’re saying, and that is the most important part of the interview process. That’s just a general rule right there.

    Good luck.

  130. Jevia says:

    Re: upcoming days off, it might depend on your industry. In my line of work, its virtually a given that before you get offered the job, you’ll undergo two interviews. I never admit to needing time off in the first interview, but I might in the second interview. It might also depend on finding out the hiring time frame. Are they interviewing for a month and won’t decide for another 2 weeks after that, or are they looking for someone to start asap?

    I know that its illegal to ask about one’s marriage/family status in an interview, but I was always very up front about it. I wanted my new employer to know from the git-go that I needed to be off work by 5pm on a usual basis (sometimes can stay late, but not on a regular expected basis). My last job always made me feel guilty if I left before 6:30pm, even if I was in the office before 8am. I didn’t want to work in a similar place.

  131. bwcbwc says:

    @venterminator: Or for a slightly more classical version: “My heel.”

    Maybe you could come up with a top 10 list of heroes’ weaknesses to use as a response…kryptonite, my heel, my wife…etc.

  132. RandomHookup says:

    @TorrentFreak: Employers don’t get credit scores, but we do get a look at someone’s credit report (the specific line items). The value is always debatable, but it’s usually true that if someone has massive credit problems, there will be problems in other areas as well.

  133. Smashville says:

    As an HR professional, I’ll throw out some pet peeves…
    1. Don’t argue with me.
    2. Don’t argue with me about the positions we have open. I’ve been doing this job a while, I know how to do it. Chances are that since I work there and deal with them every day, I know what positions we have open, despite what your friend told you.
    3. For the love of God, bathe.
    4. Being rude to HR = no job. It’s just that simple.
    5. If your interview is at 11 and you show up at 10 because you’re new in town and weren’t sure how long it will take you to get there, that’s fine, but don’t ask “What’s taking so long?” or “Are you busy or something?” if it’s 20 minutes before your scheduled interview time. I do have a job to do and you are on the schedule at a specific time for a specific reason.
    6. If we haven’t called you after 3 weeks, we’re not interested. We try to get back to the people we interview, but we’re a staff of 4. When you get 1,000 applications a week, you can’t call everyone or send everyone a letter telling them they are not being considered. Don’t call to complain that you haven’t been called. You can call to make sure we’ve received your application…sometimes this helps when you consider the volume of applications we get. But don’t call and bitch us out.
    7. If you have to ask what a position is, there’s a good chance you don’t know how to do it.
    8. If the position requires computer skills, don’t request a paper application once you’ve been told the applications are done via Internet.
    9. Don’t apply to a position that you don’t know what it is. You can ask. We’ll tell you.
    10. We can see the screen names you create. If your screenname is “longdongsilver2″(it happened)…we’re going to probably avoid you. If you can’t keep your application appropriate, how can we guarantee you’ll be appropriate in the workplace.
    11. If you took time off of work to stay with your kids, just say that. If you put any crap about “Domestic Engineer”…well, that’s not going to fly.
    12. If we are open from 8-4:30…do not come in to complete an application at 4:25. If you can’t make it during business hours, call us – we can make arrangements.
    13. If you are hired and we tell you we need something, then we need it. Don’t argue with us. It is required by law that we have your I-9 documentation, no matter how clearly American you are.
    14. Did I mention don’t argue with me? If I say something is wrong, go ahead and ask about it…I may have said something wrong…
    15. Don’t get in my face. I’m a nice guy. Trying to intimidate me is the least likely way to get you a job.
    16. We have caller ID. Don’t pretend to call giving references for yourself..

  134. frogman31680 says:

    I just started working a sales job and I was giving an answer to this question…

    “Name a time when you noticed a problem that was causing you employer to lose money and explain the steps you took to solve it.”

    Pretty big question for a retail job… but I went on to explain some drab concept, (most of it was made up..) But I said the phrase “Profit Margin” and then the interviewer said “In all the years and interviews I have had, I have never heard someone mention the words profit margin…”

    Needless to say, I have the job. I guess sometimes it pays to know what to say and how to say it at the right time. If not, you come across as an asshole, like the person that did the 8 things listed above in this post.

  135. @PHX602: I told my interviewer when he asked me to “tell me about yourself” to “Now, any place I want to work will be able to ask better questions than this. Good talking to you. Cheers and best of luck.” I put down the phone and the guy’s supervisor called back 10 minutes later and offered me the job. :)

    Of course, this was when anyone with a pulse (and some without, from what I saw a few months on) could and did get hired.