Great Resumes Fast » Interviews » Interviewing Killers – A Top-Ten List of What Not To Do

Throughout the years I have interviewed hundreds of candidates.  I have seen and heard things that would shock you and that you would never expect during an interview.  So I have compiled a list of the top ten things NOT TO DO during an interview.

10. Do not bring your boyfriend, best friend, or children to an interview.  This is horrible interviewing behavior.  I once had a candidate bring her entire family; there were seven very rowdy people in our lobby. You can imagine what we were thinking.

9. Do not use profane language during an interview. Absolutely, someone has done this before, and they were promptly removed from the running.  Using profanity during an interview is unprofessional.

8. Do not chew gum or smoke during an interview.  Again, this goes back to professionalism; and smacking gum during an interview = not professional.

7. Do not argue with the employer. Even if you know you are right beyond a shadow of a doubt about something, it is just bad manners.

6. Do not put your briefcase, purse, pocketbook, handbag, etc. on the employer’s desk.  This is more subjective than the rest, but it relates to his or her personal space, as well as professional etiquette.  You would not go to a stranger’s house and prop your feet on their dining room table.  Same principle here.

5. Do not gossip or tell jokes. Jokes have no place in an interview—even if it is related to the job.  And gossip certainly doesn’t belong here either.

4. Refrain from bad mouthing your previous employer. This is like an epidemic.  I think people allow themselves to become trapped because the employer wants to know why you left your last position.  Even if you left because so and so was a horrible manager, they were misappropriating funds, Sheila was sleeping around, or Joe was sexually harassing you, it does not matter; your potential employer does not want to hear it.  If you speak negatively about a prior employer, your potential employer will assume that you will bad mouth them as well.  Zip your lip my friend, and instead use one of these: “I am looking for growth opportunities, advancement, or a better opportunity”; “We got new management, and they restructured the organization”; or, “The company went through a layoff.”  Only use what is truthful.  If something bad happened and you left because of it, then obviously you are in search of a better opportunity.

3. Do not accept refreshments.  Drinks spill—and food makes a mess.  Enough said.

2. Do not say ANYTHING negative about yourself, colleagues, previous employers, or competitive organizations—and do not tell them about your personal or financial troubles.  Most important, do not express your NEED for the job.  We are all human—and as humans, desperation is a turnoff.  You already know this … remember dating during your high school years?

1. During the first interview, do not discuss wages, benefits, vacations, perks, etc.  This is a tricky one because what should you do if the employer brings it up?  Here is a general rule of thumb: Do not bring up salary, benefits, vacation, perks etc.  If the employer brings it up there are two ways to respond.  If they bring it up at the beginning of the interview, and they would like to know your salary requirements, you could say something like: “I would really like to hear more about the opportunity before I could say what my salary requirement would be.”  OR you can give them a range.  I typically do not like to commit to a number.  I like to share a range.  For example, if you were interviewing and they asked you what your salary requirements are, you could say mid-to-high $50s.  This gives them AND you some wiggle room.  Oftentimes, you find that during an interview they will share with you what the budgeted salary is for the position.  If it is within your range and they ask you about it, you can share with them that it is within your range.  It is perfectly OK to negotiate salary—but NOT during the initial interview.  In fact, most experts will advise you to shy away from talking about it during the initial interview and instead leave it for when the employer brings it up during future meetings.  Also, when they ask you at the end of the interview if you have any questions, do not ask them about benefits, vacation, or PTO policies.  These questions make you seem only interested in the perks and not in the position.

This is merely a basic list for your next interview.  I assure you, there are many more points to consider.  However, these are the most common mistakes I have seen.  Review this list frequently, and make sure you are not making the same mistakes at your next interview.  Best wishes in your job search!

For a free resume analysis, send your resume via e-mail to


About Great Resumes Fast Product Templates MRP-3882

About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!


  1. Daniel Gallant on March 17, 2010 at 9:26 am

    This is a good basic list, but if you are interviewing for something more high level, I disagree with #3. If you are offered a beverage, accepting it is the polite thing to do. Further, it makes the meeting more relaxing. That is why it was offered in the 1st place.

    As a rule of thumb, I never accept anything more than a glass of water or cup of coffee.

  2. Gareth Davies on March 18, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Mostly common sense but also good reminders! Its sometimes tricky not to discuss your past without mentioning the negative elements. So a good reminder to avoid doing that.

    I disagree with the refreshments part though! Food, fair enough, but you need some water if you’re chatting for an hour or more!

  3. Alamgir on March 18, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    I have learned to much by your article
    Thank you so much and please keep posting like that great things

    Best Regards,

Leave a Comment

Improve Your Resume: Download Your Free Executive Resume Template Today

Are you struggling to create an executive resume that will impress employers? Download this free executive resume template and receive a series of 10 emails with expert guidance on how to write resume content that resonates with employers so you get more interviews.

It's everything you need to stand out, make an impression, and accelerate your job search.