5 Things Never to Bring Up in a Job Interview


Congrats on scoring that interview! You clearly deserved it based on your resume and cover letter, but don't blow the opportunity by prattling on about these five topics you should never discuss during a job interview.

1. Dirt on Your Former Employer

When your interviewer lists what makes their company special, it's really tempting to take that as a cue to rail against your old employer. But you should definitely avoid dishing about your former boss' failings, missteps, or the company culture. That leaves a lasting impression of a negative and petty employee. As far as they know, you will probably do the same to them in the future, and who wants that? Keep talking about your old company down to what you learned and how you honed your skill set — nothing more.

2. Personal or Romantic Details

Your interviewer asks you questions like, "Do you have other commitments or life events that might get in the way of your job?" This is not the time to start listing all of your very personal plans. Your dating status should not be vocalized. Giving too much background information on your family is also bad. Did you mother get sick last year and you had to take care of her for a while? Sorry, you can't bring that up in an interview — it may look like playing the sympathy card. Basically, personal details not only make the interviewer uncomfortable, but they take the focus off of your competence in the workplace.

3. Benefits and Payment

Don't mess with the process: Asking about the finer details of payment and benefits during the interview will not only dock you points, but you probably won't even get an answer until after you've been offered the job (which is now slightly less likely if you asked too early). Don't risk looking impatient and greedy. Your most burning question has to wait until you've floored them enough to get the offer.

4. Your Other Job Interviews

It's only Tuesday and you've got six more interviews this week, but that's not your current interviewer's business. Don't let them force your hand, but don't let them think they are just another interview, either. Stay confident, positive, and genuinely interested in the position you're interviewing for each time. Bringing up your other prospects won't help you unless you have a solid job offer with competitive pay and benefits to use as leverage.

5. Religion and Politics

Yes, that same bit of etiquette your mother taught you is especially important in your career. Unless you're interviewing for an NGO or a political think tank, politics and religion are not safe water cooler discussion topics nor are they worth broaching in the job interview. Think what a disaster it would be if your interviewer didn't agree with your views! How you vote or pray should not determine whether or not you're a good employee, so don't give them a chance to judge your values outside of the office.

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Guest's picture
Kelli B

Good article! While you should definitely avoid ranting about your personal life, talking about your hobbies (especially if they are professional in nature - such as Toastmasters) can be good

Guest's picture

If there is legislation pending or something that was discussed in the news that may affect the future of the organization, is that something I shouldn't bring up in the interview? Part of me thinks it may give the wrong impression - that I may be hesitant about working there if offered the job. The other part of me thinks it would show that I have done my research, I'm paying attention to current events about the organization, and it's smart to want to know what plans the organization has for its future and the future of its employees. Thoughts?

Guest's picture

I think it is how you pose the question. I think it would be a positive to bring it up for the reasons you said. I have and it has paid off. I think by showing you understand the company's challenges, you are a good fit and could help them. You just have to be careful not to sound like you are challenging the strength of the company or its direction.

Guest's picture

The mentioning other interviews part actually helped me. I let the interview know the highest offer that I had on the table, and they countered it with a higher offer, which I took.

Guest's picture

A friend worked for a small firm and her paycheck bounced several times. After the 3rd payday this happened, after talking to the office manger about how distressing this was, she was fired by the owner. She really doesn't know how to handle this in next interviews. She doesn't want to complain about the company but how to explain getting fired? Now she wishes she had looked for another job immediately, but she's new in the field.

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