Do you struggle to know what to say during a job interview?

Maybe it would be helpful to take a counter approach: To think about the things you really shouldn’t say during an interview.

There are certain words, phrases, and topics of conversation that immediately convey a negative impression and can derail your interview progress before you really have a chance. Our list is certainly not exhaustive, but perhaps it can help you think more constructively and strategically about how to present yourself in an interview!

One-Word Answers—Especially “No”

First, remember that the point of a job interview is for the interviewer to get to know you and your skillsets better, and for you to make a case for the value you can offer. As such, when you’re asked a yes or no question, providing just a single-word answer is never actually prudent. You don’t want to prattle on or to go off-topic, but you do want to provide an answer that’s a bit fuller and more specific than just yes or no.

You especially don’t want to offer a simple, curt no, which is akin to slamming an open door in the interviewer’s face. “Do you know how to use Google Analytics?” “No—but I am eager to learn!” Always turn your no into something more open, more affirmative.

Resume Clichés

We’ve written before about some of the resume buzzwords that are best omitted from your vocabulary. That includes your interview as well as your resume. When asked to describe yourself or your skills, saying that you’re hard-working or motivated or driven comes across as dreadfully empty and vacuous.

And what would really be bad is if the interviewer asks you what you mean by these awful buzzwords, and you don’t have a ready answer!

Informal Language and Slang

We’d recommend canning any language that might come across as too casual; you don’t ever want to seem like you’re anything less than totally professional and totally committed to making a strong impression. This means that cool and kinda are out, but also slang and Internet jargon.


Your job interview is an opportunity for you to take credit for your achievements. It’s not really the time to be modest or egalitarian and share the credit with everyone else. If your response to every question involves a “we”—your co-workers or your team—then the interviewer might rightly wonder if you know how to do anything on your own.

The bottom line is that you want to offer answers that are complete yet concise; detailed, on-topic, and, of course, fairly flattering to your own skills and abilities!

Read more: 7 Ways to Take Charge of Your Job Interview