Maxwell Stephens

Interview techniques - What not to say

Top 5 questions

So, you’ve got to the all-important interview stage. Your opportunity to impress with your eloquence, positivity and superior communication skills. Either that or an ideal opportunity to place your foot squarely in your mouth! The pressure of an interview scenario, coupled with your pre-interview nerves and anticipation can very easily cause you to say something that your common-sense filter would normally prevent. From our vast experience of the best (and worst) things to say in interviews, here are a few things to keep in mind.


Do not bad mouth your last boss!


You have probably heard this advice a hundred times before, but as a recruitment specialist we are still surprised at how often we receive interview feedback where the interviewee has spoken negatively about a past employer. Also as a recruitment specialist we can categorically state that bad mouthing a past employer is a sure-fire way to alienate any potential future employers. No matter how dramatically you left your last job or how inept your felt your previous boss was, do not be tempted to discuss this in an interview. There’s a very good chance the interviews will side with your previous employer and assume it wasn’t them that was the problem, it was you!


Don’t say “I’ll have your job” when you’re asked where you will be in 5 years.


There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and this is something you should definitely keep in mind during an interview. Showing confidence in your skills and abilities is a good thing, but overstep the mark and you can come across as egotistical and even obnoxious. Remember that the people interviewing you will most likely be your colleagues if you got the job – they have to like you to work with you. Strike the right balance between confidence and humility and you can’t go far wrong.


Give constructive reasons as to why you are leaving your current job.


You may find yourself saying “I hate my job” to anyone who will listen on a daily basis. Do not say this in an interview! If you asked why you are looking to move on, use this as an opportunity to focus on the positives of the position you’re are interviewing for rather than the negatives of the position you are leaving. This could be talking about the unique challenge the position offers, the reputation and success of the organisation or your suitability for the role.


Don’t be a suck up.


Awkward flattery, sycophantic laughter, cringe-worthy compliments, bleurghhh! No one likes a suck up. Employers will most likely see through this behaviour immediately and that is a guaranteed way to lose their respect. If they say something you don’t agree with speak up, show them you have a mind of your own and are not afraid to share your opinion.


No, I don’t have any questions.


Another piece of advice you’ve probably heard many times before, but it’s worth reminding you. Prepare several questions before the interview. These could be based on research you have done around the organisation or it’s market, you could ask a question to build on something the interviewer mentions throughout the interview, or another approach could be to ask the interviewer about their experience within the organisation. A quick side note, “How much will I be paid?”, “How many days holiday will I get?” or “Can I do this job from home?” are definitely not the sort of questions you should be asking.


These are just a few of the pitfalls you could encounter in an interview. The best piece of advice we can give is be prepared! Research the organisation, practice interview answers with someone, look up your potential employers online. Do as much as you can to get yourself ready for anything those interviewers can throw at you. If you need any interview advice the team at Maxwell Stephens are always on hand to help. Give us a call on 0207 118 48 48 or drop us an email to

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