15 Things You Never (Ever) Want to Hear During Your Job Interview

By Mike Simpson

We’ve all been there…

You’re firmly planted in your chair, chest puffed out as you rattle off perfect answers to any interview question the hiring manager throws at you…

“This isn’t so bad!  I’m a shoe-in for this position,” you surely think as the taste of victory fills your mouth and visions of dollar signs begin filling your head.

But then it happens.

The hiring manager says something that changes everything.  And not in a good way.

Sometimes it’s like a hammer slamming down on your dreams, and other times it’s a lot more subtle, but the fact of the matter is that you’ve just realized something has changed.

The interview is over and you’re not getting the job.

There is nothing more discomforting, more off-putting or more discouraging than being in the middle of a job interview and realizing that no matter what happens, the hiring manager has already made up her/his mind.

Here is our list of 15 things you never want to hear during your job interview, because chances are if you have, you’ll probably be continuing your job search when you get home.

P.S. If you want to avoid hearing any of these following things at your next interview check out our job interview tips article.

1) "I called Company X and they've never heard of you."

This can only mean one thing.  That you lied on your resume.  Really?  You actually created a fake position and didn't think that the hiring manager would be doing their due diligence?

I'm sorry (and I mean this in the nicest way possible), but if you make this mistake then you don't deserve to get the job.

2) "I was looking at your Facebook/Twitter page and I noticed that..."

How this sentence finishes is the key to how you should interpret this statement.  In other words, if the hiring manager continues by saying "...I noticed that you had some unflattering things to say about our company," or "...it looks like you are a bit of a party-girl based on the amount of pictures of you with alcohol..." you should probably put some work into interview-proofing your timeline (or at the very least, revisiting your privacy settings).

The moral of the story?  Don't get sunk by being reckless with your social accounts.  Remove anything controversial or things that don't align with the values of the company you are interviewing with.

3) "We only ever hire the absolute best people for the job..."

This one probably surprised you a little bit, but it requires more context.  You see, this statement can be a giveaway that the company you are interviewing with is not necessarily interested in "promoting from within" when jobs open up, choosing instead to head hunt candidates from around the world with hopes of hiring "superstars".

If you see yourself growing within the company and this is a deal-breaker for you, you may want to ask a follow up question (ex. "What is your policy on promoting from within?  When a position opens up, do you look within the company first?")

4) "You've got something on your shirt," or "You've got something in your teeth."

We all know how important first impressions are.  As much as we wish it wasn't the case, a hiring manager can make up their mind about you within the first few seconds of meeting you, so it is absolutely essential that you don't shoot yourself in the foot.

Having good personal hygiene is a no-brainer and therefore basically a deal-breaker if the candidate is lacking in that area.  A quick visit to the restroom is all you need to make sure you are presenting yourself in the best way possible.

5) "Are those sunglasses prescription?"

Unless you wear glasses that happen to be "transitions" (where the opacity of the lens changes based on the amount of light) and you just came into the office from a blazing sunshiney day, leave the Oakley wraparounds at home.

6) "Can I give you some advice?"

It's rare that anything positive ever comes after this question.  Generally speaking, something you have said or done has drawn negative attention to you in the eyes of the hiring manager, and now all that is left to do is respond appropriately.

We recommend that you accept the advice graciously and with a smile... nothing good can come out of a bad reaction.

7) "I'm concerned about the spelling errors in your cover letter and resume..."

If you've made it this far with spelling mistakes in your cover letter or resume, you should consider yourself lucky.  Because chances are you won't even advance past the screening stage.  Triple check every document you submit with a job application.  I'd even get someone else to take a look at your documents.

8) "We experience a lot of turnover with this position."

This should set the off the alarm bells inside your head.  Why is there a lot of turnover?  Is it simply the nature of the position you are interviewing for is there a bigger problem you should be worrying about?

The most important thing to do is get as much information about this as possible.  "What would you say are the largest contributors to the turnover?"  If you don't like what you hear, run for the hills!

9) "Please leave your pet outside."

C'mon... nobody actually brings their pet with them to a job interview, let alone tries to actually enter the interview room with the pet in tow... do they?  Actually... yes they do.  Don't be this person.  Unless you're interviewing for a veterinary position that requires some kind of demonstration on a parrot, leave your feathered friend at home.

10) "We are still interviewing a lot of other candidates."

This is a tough one to hear for a couple reasons.  First of all, we can all agree that job interviews are a numbers game.  The fact that a hiring manager uses the phrase "a lot" when referring to the other candidates just outlines the fact that the odds are stacked against you.

The other drawback to this statement is the fact that the hiring manager made it at all.  After all, if you were at the top of the heap (or even in consideration for the position) would the hiring manager really say this?  Not likely.

11) "We're a startup that is kind of figuring things out as we go along."

While being a part of a startup in the early stages certainly has its merits, this should be a red flag to you.  Do you really want to be part of a company that is flying by the seat of its pants?  What about payroll?  Are they just "figuring that out as they go?"

It sounds ominous, so be sure to ask questions about the areas that concern you (ex. work hours, health and benefits, compensation, etc.)

12) "Are you sure this is the right opportunity for you?"

This is the hiring manager's nice way of saying "You're not the right person for this position based on what I've seen in your resume and this interview."  The best way to answer this question is to be truthful, drawing on examples from your past that show why it's the right opportunity for you.

13) "Actually, my name is..."

FACEPALM!  If you can't get the hiring manager's name right, you just might be unemployable.  OK, that's extreme (as mistakes do happen), but it does help illustrate how crucial it is for you to take the time to learn the details before you go into the room.

This should be done in the days leading up to the interview.  Where is the interview?  What materials are required?  Who am I being interviewed by?

14) "Your supervisor can be tough to get along with."

Believe it or not, hiring managers will let little tidbits like this slip from time to time.  So you should be asking yourself this question.  How badly do you want this job?  Enough to put up with a difficult boss for 3-5 years?

As in previous examples, it is always best to get a little more information about the issue before miking your decision.  What is it about this person that people have found difficult?

15) "We'll be in touch."

Generally speaking, what this translates to is "You're never going to hear from us again."  If a company intends on following up with you and making contact, they will be much more specific about the timeline and method of communication.  "We'll be in touch" is the lazy hiring manager's way of ending the interview without letting you down too hard.

Don't be afraid to ask the hiring manager to clarify the statement.  "Will you be contacting both successful and unsuccessful candidates?" And "When can I expect to hear from you?" are two reasonable questions to ask.

So there you have our 15 things that you never want to hear in your job interview.  Hopefully these don’t come up! 😉

About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.