Despite the high stakes, your job interview is really just a simple conversation; it's a polite and pleasant
chat between two professional adults who may or may not be interested in forming a long term working
relationship….nothing more. But even the most polite and pleasant social interactions have rules, and
these rules can be complex and inflexible. As you talk to your interviewer, relax and enjoy the moment.
Be yourself, and have the confidence to ask the interviewer as many questions as she asks you. But
don't settle into a cozy rhythm and forget your manners. Here are four remarks you should never make
during your interview, no matter how well intended they may be.
1. Cruel jokes at your own expense.
It's okay to be humble and self-deprecating. In fact, most people like and admire this behavior, since it
takes warmth, confidence, and courage to make fun of yourself a little. But as you step into this
territory, watch out. If you wouldn't say something about your best friend, your former boss, or the
person across the table from you, please don't say it about yourself. Keep your self-effacing remarks
funny, classy, and gentle. If you cross the line, you can't predict how your listener will respond. Some
people have a more developed sense of humor and irony than others.
2. Remarks about your personal relationships and family status.
If your interviewer happens to mention his father's battle with cancer, his sister's recent birth of twins,
or his wife's trip to Italy, that's fine. But this doesn't mean it's time to share your own family story with
an equal level of depth and disclosure. Your own father's health, your own marriage, and your own birth
and childrearing tales are off the table and should stay off. This is no place to share personal details that
can open you to judgement and bias. Keep your religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital status
absolutely to yourself, even if you're asked (especially if you're asked).
3. Casual conversations personal finance.
Don't talk about salary until you reach an appropriate stage in the interview process. And while you're at
it, don't talk about money in any personal capacity. Watch out for remarks like, "I really need this job.
My student loans won't pay themselves!" or "My siblings and I have a trust fund", or "I tend to be a
spender/saver/borrower/lender/investor." This aspect of your personality is not your interviewer's
business, and like any other touchy topic, anything you say on this subject can pave the way for
suspicion, assumptions, bias, and misunderstanding.
4. Your interviewer's personal appearance.
Far too often, interviewees stumble into a social mire while simply looking for something nice to say. If
you want to say something pleasant and compliment your interviewer, focus on her insights, his strong
memory, or her business acumen. Admire the company she runs or the challenges he faces on the job.
But don't say anything at all about his or her appearance, weight, age, clothing, or affect. "You don't
look old enough to be a grandmother", "I can see you've been traveling—you have a nice tan" or "I love
that tie" can all crash land, no matter well meant they may be. Save them for another conversation…
after you've landed the job.
For more on how to stay on track and cool-headed during your interview, reach out to the job search
team at MyPerfectResume.