Interview hacks: Top 5 topics to avoid at a job interview

Interview hacks: Top 5 topics to avoid at a job interview

Well done on scoring that job interview. You’re one step closer to your dream job. Now all you have to do is nail that interview. Easier said than done though, we know. So much depends on the level of chemistry between you and your interviewer. But while certain things are beyond your control, you can, however, minimise any possible awkwardness or embarrassing faux pas with diligent preparation.

It’s important to be an active participant in a job interview, but it’s also imperative that you stay away from sensitive or personal topics—first impressions can be impossible to reverse or undo.

So whatever you do, make sure you steer clear of the following 5 topics at your next job interview:       

#1 Negative feedback

If the interviewer asks why you left your last job, it’s imperative that you frame your reply in neutral and diplomatic terms. It doesn’t matter how horrible the working conditions were or how unprofessional your last boss was, it’s far more important that you maintain your professionalism and integrity at all times.

Reserve the negative comments for personal chats with your friends and family members. Complaining at a job interview is a strict no-no, especially when it’s your first time meeting the interviewer.

#2 Politics or religion

These are two of the most sensitive topics that should be avoided at all times, except when you’re talking to those closest to you. There’s no way of knowing what the interviewer’s views are with regards to such topics, and it would be a major faux pas to make a comment that unintentionally insults his or her views or beliefs.

Stay professional and keep the conversation focused on the job scope and the company.

#3 Personal drama

It’s important to share personal insights so the interviewer gets to know you, but this doesn’t mean telling them every aspect of your life story. Be down-to-earth and friendly, but keep the drama at home, where it belongs. Stories of your kids or relationships can wait until you’ve landed the job, and even then, it should be doled out in small doses.

You don’t want to tell them too much too soon. Information overload can be a major put-off, especially if the interviewer has had a long day of interviews.

#4 Unhelpful criticisms

One effective way to stand out at a job interview is to carry out thorough research on the company, identify challenges they’re faced with, and share insightful suggestions that might help overcome those obstacles.

What you shouldn’t do, however, is to express critical views of the company’s operations without any constructive suggestions or solutions to remedy the situation. If you’re going to say something, make it something helpful. Otherwise, you’re better off keeping those views to yourself.

#5 Financial perks

Unless the interviewer brings this up, you should avoid asking about financial perks or employment benefits—discussion about these aspects should wait until a firm job offer has been made. Being too focused on salary or benefits will give the impression that you’re just there for the money, which indicates you’re likely to leave if a better offer comes along.

If this is your first (or even second) interview, you want to keep your questions focused on the job scope, performance expectations, the company’s work culture and policies, career development prospects, etc.

Remember that you only get one chance to make a favourable first impression—make it count! 


Further reading: 

The 7 items you should remove from your resume

9 smart answers to tough job interview questions

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