5 Things You Should NEVER Say In An Interview

Interviewing for a position you really want can be nerve-racking and cause you to act in abnormal ways. Being on the spot, constantly having to keep composure, answer questions on the fly… all of this is hard and believe us — we know it well. 

So, in preparation for a conversation with your hiring manager or recruiter, your best bet is to not only prepare your professional acumen, but to also prepare your best self. When it comes to promoting the best parts of your personality, work history, awards, and so on, you’re more than likely coming out of the gate swinging. However, in our years of recruiting, we’ve seen some things we want to make sure you can avoid saying/doing. 

The 5 Things

1. “What’s the PTO Policy here?" Maybe save this question for the end of the interview and make sure you position this one with a bit more diplomacy. 

  • The better way to ask: “I’m curious about how the team handles time off with the flow of business at the company. Do most people find time to use their vacation?" This way you’re asking more generally and trying to find the answer by teeing up the hiring manager. 

2. “Is there good work/life balance at the company?” Ugh. This is a tough one. It’s something we all strive for and it’s achieved in fewer instances these days. However, coming across as “I don’t want to work TOO hard” is a bad foot to start on.

  • The better way to ask: “Is this a results-oriented company?" This question will position you as an expert. You’re a goal-oriented person and you’re thinking in that vein. Make sure you’re projecting your own performance is what will be of value to the company/position.

3. “Man… my current employer is terrible.” This is just a non-starter. If you’re in a place where you want to speak negatively about your current employer or previous, just don’t. Find someone who isn’t trying to hire you — like someone at the grocery store…. or your dog. 

  • The better way to say this: Don’t complain. Complaining is a surefire way of getting the call/interview to end quickly. Make sure you pair any shortcomings with potential solutions or opportunities in how YOU would handle things better next time around. 

4. Recruiter: “Do you have any questions for me?” You: "No.” Oh, boy. This is a frustrating one — and one we’ve encountered more than we’d like to say. 

  • The better approach this question: Don’t just flat out say “no.” Instead, go with something to the tune of “You know, I have a list of questions here and you’ve answered all of them throughout our conversation today. If I think of any follow-up questions, I’d love to email them to you, if that’s ok?"

5. Using Profanity. No. Just no. This is a definite non-starter for all of us — and probably every recruiter/hiring manager the world over.

  • The better approach: Just don’t use profanity. Period. Here’s the thing, sometimes hiring managers want to lure you into a false sense of security with them. Don’t fall for it and definitely don’t let your guard down. Also, if you have the mouth of a sailor, maybe try to bring it down a notch before your interview.

For a quick recap of these things, check out our accompanying podcast on these 5 things.



By next year, close to 50% of the workforce in our country will be made up of Millennials. (We’re talking about professionals today who were born between 1981-1996.)

The most inclusive generation. The most tech-savvy. The unicorn-like when it comes to general management and retention — there are dozens of “millennial-isms” that we all throw around.

Some of the most important aspects of professional life for a millennial pale in comparison to previous generations. A few key things we’ve learned over the years —

  • Millennials give remote work high value — both in current positions and when job searching

  • Quality of the workplace matters significantly in job satisfaction

  • Accelerated opportunity to grow in a position is paramount when making a career move/decision

  • Inclusion in company decisions, feeling valued on the team, and being heard are major components for the Millennial generation when it comes to job satisfaction

  • Lastly, millennials are constantly seeking ROI — but not an investment of self, rather an investment of their time

Time is the most important thing you can give someone in today’s world — leaders have to recognize this. We all have less margin than we’ve ever had.

If you’re in a leadership position in your company, the collective letter from the Millennial generation is this:

Time, while finite, is the mechanism that drives us. The more our time is valued, the more you’ll see us unlock every bit of potential our generation is capable of. Return on Time (RoT) is the true differentiator.

Hear Mike and Matt’s perspectives on hiring practices, management styles, and expectations of millennials on this episode of The Spirecast.

Listen Now

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