Knowing what not to say in a job interview is as important to your success in the hiring process as knowing what you should say.

Congratulations, you’ve one of the lucky job applicants who have gotten through the initial screening for a position. You have been invited to interview for the job. While this in itself is an achievement, there are still miles to go before you celebrate.

The job interview is a key step in the selection process. Depending on the position, the process can be fairly involved. The interview could also be followed by additional interviews at different levels before you finally receive the offer letter. Getting past these screens is critical to ensuring you make a great start and stay ahead of the competition. Your goal is to convince the interviewers that you are the best person for the job.

Five things to not to say in a job interview

1. My previous boss or company was terrible

Even if it is the absolute truth, there is no need to bring it up.  Bashing up your previous boss or putting the company you were employed at earlier in a bad light can backfire. Don’t gripe about your previous company.  And, completely avoid mentioning that you could not get along or align yourself with the company culture. This may actually give the interviewer a message that you do not have the ability to adapt to challenging situations. Besides, the interviewer may also conclude that you will talk in a negative manner about this company as well in the future.

2. What pay and benefits do you offer?

Unless the interviewer brings up the subject, discussion of pay and other benefits are best left to until after you have received an offer. Asking this during your interview may signal that you care only about the pay and nothing else. Before applying for a job, do some research of what typical pay rates for the position are in your area? Check the job posting to see if it shows a pay range for the job.  Check the organization’s website to see what types of benefits are offered.   If you are working with a staffing agency for a temporary assignment, you should discuss pay and benefits with the agency as they would be your employer.

3. I don’t think I have any weaknesses

One of the common questions in a job interview is “what do you think are your biggest weaknesses.”  When you state outright that you don’t have any shortcomings, you are likely to come across as untruthful. Instead, focus on some points that are not directly related to the job you are applying for and talk about them. For example if your role does not involve public speaking you can mention you are nervous when you have to speak in front of a huge audience. It is better to add what steps you are taking to overcome the weakness as in attending special classes or learning a skill.

4. What does your organization do?

Interviewers expect that you would have conducted extensive research on the organization prior to applying. Whether you are looking for temporary employment or permanent employment, ensure you do your research regarding the employer, including its mission, products, services, etc.

5. I like what you are wearing

Compliments do not work very well at a formal interview. They are likely to be considered inappropriate or that you are trying to please with false praise. You can comment on the organization’s recent achievements or something else you discovered in your research, such as winning a prestigious award or being ranked number one in the industry. Further, don’t ask personal questions or talk about your personal problems.

Remember, the interview is about presenting yourself in the best light by focusing on the employer, the job and how your skills and background fit with their needs.  Knowing what not to say in a job interview will help you focus on the right things.