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by Taylor Tobin via Fairygodboss | February 11, 2019


man interlocked fingers

When prepping for a job interview, it’s just as important to practice what not to say as it is to practice what to say. So, to avoid an off-the-cuff interview mistake, make sure you practice not using these three sentences.

1. “My current boss is crazy.”

This is one of those “honesty isn’t always the best policy” situations. It might be true that you’re desperate to leave your current place of work because your boss causes and reinforces a toxic work environment. But because your interviewer doesn’t have a clear perception of you yet, she lacks the necessary information to determine whether your estimation is correct. And even if you can compellingly argue your former boss’s dysfunction, companies typically aren’t interested in hiring employees who will later go on to say negative things about them in future interviews. Keeping your word choice neutral and your tone positive will help you tremendously. Instead of saying, “I have to leave because my manager is impossible to work with," less accusatory sentences like, “It’s time for me to move on to new opportunities,” or, “I’m seeking growth potential that I don’t currently have at work,” will serve you better.

2. “My biggest weakness is I work too hard.”

If you’ve ever visited a particularly out-of-touch career counselor, you’ve likely heard this old chestnut: “When asked about your weaknesses, just reframe your strengths!” Here’s the thing, though: if you do that in an actual interview, your interviewers will immediately know what you’re doing, and they’ll likely be annoyed by your effort to dodge the question. Instead, offer an honest response that will both help the employer imagine you as a realistic employee and will help you screen for jobs that actually fit your strengths.

Recently, "Ask A Manager" author Alison Green told New York Magazine the following: “You’ll get far better outcomes for yourself if you use the interview as a chance to figure out whether or not the job is a strong match for you, taking into account what you’re great at and what you’re not-so-great at. You should want to make sure your interviewer is aware of your weaker points and doesn’t think they’ll be big obstacles in the job.”

3. “No, I don’t think I have any questions.”

Contrary to popular belief, job interviews aren’t auditions. The goal isn’t just to convince the employer that you’re the best one for the job; you also need to gain all the information you need to make an educated decision for yourself. That’s why the question-and-answer period typically held at the end of the interview should be taken seriously. Don’t miss your opportunity; come to the interview with at least three questions already prepared, and also keep your mind open to new questions that may arise during your conversation with the hiring manager. That way, even if your prepared questions are addressed in the course of your interview, you'll still have plenty to say at the end of your interview—and won't end on a long, awkard, silent note.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.