Nobody’s perfect. You could be pro at job interviews, but there’s always a chance you’ll say something a bit off.
Slipping up and saying something slightly unprofessional won’t necessarily sink your candidacy. Your qualifications and endearing personality might just carry you over.
That is, unless you say something so bad that you completely wreck your chances. Swearing, lying, or showing your ignorance about what the company does may not just put you in a bad light with your interviewer — it could end the interview right there on the spot.
Here are 12 interview faux pas that could automatically disqualify you, unless you’re really lucky:
‘What does your company do?’
Questions like this will make you look like you don’t even care enough to run a simple Google search. Do a little research on both the company and your interviewer in order to truly put your best foot forward.
‘Are you married?/Are you pregnant?/etc.’
Never ask the interviewer any personal questions — or anything that could be offensive. It’s just off-putting.
‘S—,’ ‘b—-,’ ‘f—, ‘ etc.
Hey, everyone curses. It’s better to hold off on the profanities in job interviews, though. That being said, letting out a curse word or two during a funny story might not be a nail in your coffin. Angrily swearing at someone (your interviewer or otherwise), on the other hand, would definitely knock you out of the running.
Anything offensive, sexist, racist, etc.
A job interview isn’t the place to break out your controversial opinions or risqué sense of humor. Stay away from topics that could make your interviewer uncomfortable, if possible.
‘I want your job’
Put yourselves in your interviewer’s shoes. Would you want to hire someone who sounds like they’re about to go “All About Eve” on you? Probably not. Focus less on the job they have, and more on the one you’re actually being interviewed for.
Anything that indicates this particular organization’s not your top choice
Even if you can’t imagine yourself staying on at the company too long, it’s important not to express this aloud. Your interviewer’s not going to respond well to someone that expresses an intention to use the position as a mere stepping stone to something bigger and better.
The same thing goes for interviewing with your second choice. You may have a dream job in the wings that you’re waiting to hear back from, but don’t make the interviewer feel like you don’t value their organization.
Anything that comes off as threatening
Avoid any sentence that starts with “I’d better get this job, or…”
Even if you’re just kidding (I mean, hopefully, you’re kidding), you’ll just come across as creepy and overly aggressive.
Lying to your interviewer
Don’t lie. If your lie is obvious, you’ll be called out. If it’s not, you’ll be found out later. In the case of interviewing for a job, honesty is always the best policy.
Don’t guilt the interviewer
Any interviewer worth their salt won’t allow themselves to be guilted into offering you a job, so save the sob story. They likely don’t care about how hard it was for you to be let go from your last job, or even how badly you need this one. Focus on your qualifications and what you could do for the company, not how much you personally need the job.
‘Do you want to grab dinner sometime?’ or ‘Wow, you have such a beautiful smile’
Don’t flirt with your interviewer.
I’ll say it again — don’t flirt with your interviewer. Like, congratulations on being so sure of yourself that you think you can seduce your way into this job, but this tactic is probably going to end badly.
‘What job am I interviewing for?’
How have you even made it this far in the process if you don’t know what you’re being interviewed for? If you’re legitimately confused, try asking about what kind of person succeeds in the job, so you sound engaged rather than clueless.
‘I know I’m not the most qualified person, but…’
If you say this, the appropriate response from the interviewer is, “Oh, you’re not? Goodbye then.”
Clearly, the interviewer thinks you’re qualified enough to talk to. So stop with the self-deprecation. It’s not refreshing. It makes you sound like a sad sack, and the interviewer is going to move along to someone who does think they’re the most qualified person.
Rachel Gillett and Áine Cain contributed to previous versions of this article.