20 Embarrassing Things Never to Say in a Job Interview

We all have to do job interviews–either as the candidate or as the boss interviewing candidates. (We’ve all been the candidate at one time or another, regardless of where we sit now.) Lots of different topics come up in job interviews, and conversations go all over the place, but there are 20 words and phrases that should never, ever, come out of your mouth.

1. Retarded. You may have grown up in the era where saying, “That’s so retarded” simply meant something was silly or dumb. For instance, “Mom says I can’t go to the prom because I failed chemistry. That’s so retarded.” Ban this word from not only your job interview vocabulary but your everyday vocabulary. It’s not acceptable. Say what you really mean instead. For instance, “Mom says I can’t go to the prom because I failed chemistry. That’s great parenting!”

2. Almost. “I almost got promoted.” This means you did not get promoted. While almost is a great word for many things, in a job interview, talking about what you “almost” did takes away from what you did do. Focus on actual accomplishments, not things you almost did.

To keep reading, click here: 20 Embarrassing Things Never to Say in a Job Interview

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12 thoughts on “20 Embarrassing Things Never to Say in a Job Interview

  1. Heads up, The link needs an http – without it just tries to find the page within your own site.

  2. With respect to your #10, “Can I have some feedback?” I hate when people say things like this. First, “can” means do I have the ability so they are asking me if they have the ability to have feedback. How should I know? Use “may” which means do I have permission. Second, please change this to active voice because even if you are granted permission to have feedback it still doesn’t get to the root of your intention. If you want feecback from me then ask for it with “Could you please share some feedcak?” Finally I can (have the ability to) respond with an appropriate answer which probably will be a variant of no.

    1. “May I have” is just as active voice as “Could you please share,” though. “Could feedback be given to me?” would be the passive voice. You’re wanting the question to be framed in second person rather than in first person so that the request is more direct.

        1. I love all grammar problems. However, unless you have an overly picky interviewer, she will forgive occasional grammar mistakes. You are in a situation where you have to come up with responses on the spot. Even with prepared questions you may be nervous. Your interview overall should sound like you prepared and that you think you can do the job. If it does, they probably won’t concentrate on an occasional pause or grammar issue.

  3. I recently had a medical problem that made me look pregnant. I did get asked when the baby was due. Don’t ask. What if she responds that she’s just fat?

    There’s an old quote (maybe Dave Barry?). Never ask a woman if she’s pregnant unless you see the baby crowning.

  4. If you are interviewing for a mechanics job and are asked a question about getting an engine to run better, your answer may involve changing the timing on the engine. Timing can be advanced or retarded.


    It’s not the word, it’s the context of usage.

    1. Sure. Very specialized, though. Likewise, it’s probably acceptable to say you almost got gold at the Olympics, but ended up with the silver by 0.001 seconds.

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