Every interviewer has a mental list of key words and phrases that they hope to hear from the candidates they speak with. Similarly, there are phrases that raise red flags and alert them that they should cut ties and move forward with a different candidate. The following are 10 of those harmful phrases that you should avoid using in your conversations with interviewers.


  1. “Sorry I’m late.”

Running late immediately puts you at a disadvantage and can cost you a job opportunity before your interview even begins. Plan accordingly so that you never have to apologize to an interviewer for a lack of punctuality.

  1. “How long do you think this will take?”

As you are scheduling interviews, make sure that you block off a few hours per meeting. Remember that in addition to the length of the interview itself, you also need to account for the time you will spend commuting to and from the interview and time to decompress afterwards. Simply scheduling appropriately will allow you to give the interviewer your undivided attention rather than sneaking glances at the clock.

  1. “Interviews make me so nervous.”

Very few people are able to approach an interview with complete confidence, and interviewers are acutely aware that most candidates are nervous entering their office. You don’t need to reiterate your anxiety; instead, show them your ability to overcome nerves and handle stressful situations in a professional manner.

  1. “No, I don’t have any questions for you at this point.”

ALWAYS have a few questions prepared to ask your interviewer. It is common knowledge that you will be asked if you have any questions at some point during your interview and not having a couple of well thought out questions to ask will show a lack of preparation on your part.

  1. “Ummmmmmmmm…”

It is highly likely that you will be asked at least one question during your interview that causes you to pause or stumble. While quietly pausing or taking a sip of water before answering are both acceptable ways of giving yourself more time to formulate an answer, filling the silence with “ummmmmm” will make you sound unsure and unable to communicate effectively.

  1. “My greatest weakness is that I am Type A and a perfectionist.”

Ok, let’s set the record straight. Being a perfectionist or having a Type A personality is not a weakness. Trying to disguise a strength as a weakness is a cop-out and not what the interviewer wants to hear. Give them what they want- the truth. Explain one area that you have struggled with in the past but put a positive spin on it by explaining steps that you have taken to improve.

  1. “I don’t know.”

The reality is that you won’t have a perfectly crafted response for every question, but you should make every attempt to give an answer. If you encounter a mental block, ask the interviewer to restate the question or repeat the question to buy yourself some time to form an adequate response.

  1. “How much vacation time does your company offer?”

I know I said that you should have questions prepared to ask your interviewer; however, this is an example of a question to avoid. You want to focus on why you are the right person to hire, not how anxious you are to get away from a job you don’t have yet.

  1. “My current job is horrible so I really need this job.”

Two things will hurt you with this statement. The first is that you should never speak poorly about any past positions or employers that you have had. This reflects poorly on your character and draws the focus away from your positive attributes. Secondly, desperation in an interview often has the same result as desperation in dating- no call back.

  1. “I don’t know much about your company.”

Part of preparing for an interview is researching the company that you are applying for. Voicing your limited knowledge of the company will show a lack of preparation and will give the impression that you aren’t invested the idea of working for them.