Things you should never say in an interview (and what to say instead)

With some tact and preparation, you can rock your job interview and leave the good kind of lasting impression to help land that job.

Photo: thecrazyfilmgirl via Flickr

Some resumes are full of outlandish claims, but a few job seekers say even stranger things in interviews.

It’s crucial to present yourself professionally, both in how you dress and how you respond to questions. You don’t want to sound like someone who’s clueless about how to behave in the business world.

A recent OfficeTeam survey reveals some of the weirdest things hiring managers have heard come out of job candidates’ mouths. Here’s a look at some of the most out-there remarks, and what interviewees should have said instead.

“My previous manager was an idiot.”

Maybe they were, or maybe they weren’t. Regardless of how you felt about your former boss, you look bad when you trash talk past employers.

Do this instead: Avoid negative comments — about previous supervisors, coworkers or job duties. Hiring managers like to ask candidates why they left their previous jobs. Even if the primary reason was indeed a bad boss, keep things positive and future-focused. You could say something like, “Though I sometimes had a different viewpoint than others, I really enjoyed my job and collaborating with coworkers. But after X years in the same position, I felt it was time for another challenge.”

“I’m not interested in this job. I just want the medical benefits.”

Honesty is great — up to a point. While health insurance may indeed be a key driver behind your job search, no prospective employer wants to hear they’re being used.

Do this instead: Rather than focusing on what you want out of a job, highlight the many ways the company would benefit if they hired you. Show enthusiasm for the position and the employer’s mission and values. Talk about how well your skills and work experience align with the job requirements. It’s fine to talk about benefits, salary and perks, but leave those topics for the second interview or when you receive a job offer.

“There’s no reason to interview anyone else, because I’m the best candidate.”

Confidence is great, but you need to strike a balance. No one wants to hire an arrogant jerk.

Do this instead: List all the reasons why you’re the ideal person for the job. Before the interview, study the job description again and come up with how you meet or exceed those requirements — and give specific examples from your past positions that illustrate those points.

“What does this company do?”

This is one of the worst questions to ask during a job interview.

Do this instead: Company research is a must. You absolutely need to know not only what products or service a prospective employer provides, but also as much as you can find about their values, initiatives, competitors and business challenges. It’s important to ask questions, but frame them in a way that shows you’ve done your homework and are now seeking information you can’t glean from their website or social media channels.

With some tact and preparation, you can rock your job interview and leave the good kind of lasting impression.

Brandi Britton is a district president for OfficeTeam, the nation’s leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled administrative and office support professionals. OfficeTeam has 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services. Connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and our blog.