12 Things to Never Say in a Job Interview

Whether you are coming straight out of school, changing careers or re-entering the workforce, job interviews can be stressful. While nearly impossibly to predict what you should say in an interview situation, there are some things you should definitely never say.

1. “I don’t have any experience at this job/position/field.”

Even if you don’t have any experience, there’s a better way to say it. Try something like, “I’m ready to take the next step in my career.” Or equate experience you’ve had in a different field to the prospective job.

2. “Read my résumé, it speaks for itself.”

Now, that’s just arrogant. Your prospective employer wants to hear it from you. Nobody hires a person simply because of a résumé and you should practice a thoughtful pitch for yourself and your qualifications. Exhibit the ability to work to get a job, not to let a piece of paper do your work for you.

3. “I think outside the box.”

Firstly, this is one cliché of many that need to be retired. As much as you may be tempted to say you’ll “hit the ground running,” “move the goalpost” and “touch base at the end of the day,” just keep it short and to the point. And don’t “circle back.” Avoid buzzwords and phrases in general.

4. “I’m looking to create a synergistic strategic alliance.”

This kind of vague office-speak will likely make your prospective employer’s eyes glaze over. Just say what you mean. If you want to build a team by bringing the company’s employees together, create that image rather than using abstract words. Take advantage of the fact that the brain processes concrete images and specific words much better than vagaries.

5. “Um, I don’t know.”

Even if you actually don’t know, that is not the answer. Ask for a glass of water or a tissue and try to formulate a better way to say it. If it’s about the business of your prospective employer, you might say you’d have to do some research to give a proper answer. If it’s about you, just take a deep breath and answer honestly.

6. “When I was in the casino in Vegas…”

Too much information is always a bad idea in a job interview. Nobody wants to hear about what should stay in Vegas or that time when you popped chow out the window of a Ferrari. Or anything starting with “that time when” for that matter.

7. “How much vacation time will I get?”

Asking how much time off you’ll get before you land the job is such a bad idea you’d think that nobody would do it. You would be wrong.

8. “What the hell.”

Swearing is considered cool in many situations and many say it can be a stress reliever. It also causes unemployment. Even if secretly your future boss swears like a drunken sailor, he or she probably won’t do it during your interview and even if it happens, keep quiet and smile.

9. “Times are tough right now.”

This is the kind of statement that suggests a desperation that doesn’t inspire a prospective employer. You might as well have come in wearing clothes that looked as if you slept in them. Not to put too fine a point on it, but don’t do that either; try your best to look as if you are already successful.

10. “I’ll have the lobster and an appletini.”

If you are having the interview over lunch or dinner, try to look to your companions for clues on what to order. Even if you’ve been the restaurant a gazillion times, ask your host what would be the best choice. And it doesn’t matter if he or she orders a glass of wine, just demur. Chances are you’ll need to keep your wits about you.

11. “So…..”

Even Mark Zuckerberg took heat for this one. Starting or ending a sentence with “So….” indicates tentativeness or insecurity. What could be worse? The dreaded “So, yeah, no.”

12. “Sorry I’m late.”

Huh. Again, you’d think this would be obvious. Just. Don’t. Be. Late. Really.

Everyone wants to make a good impression in a job interview but it’s easy to blow the gig with just one verbal misstep. Be aware of your verbal crutches and keep your eye out for possible pitfalls. Look your best, watch your words and stay confident. You’re going to get that job!


About the Author: Rafael Magaña helps organizations grow. Helps leaders accelerate strategy implementation in their organizations. Specializes in leadership, management, and philanthropy. He has published more than 160 scholarly articles. Visit and connect with him on LinkedIn and on Twitter: @RafaelMagana

Copyright 2019 by Rafael Magaña. 

Three Great Ways to Learn Leadership Skills

We all know how beneficial leadership skills can be in attaining favorable career positions. The problem is, not everyone is a born leader. So, what can you do if you want the benefits that come with having leadership skills, but simply don’t possess them? The answer is quite simple: you learn them. Believe it or not, there are many excellent ways to learn and hone your leadership and management abilities. In this article, we’ll take a look at three of the best and easiest methods for learning this set of skills.

The first approach is to begin reading books on leadership and management. As strange as it may sound, there are huge numbers of books available on this subject. To start off with, you should read books that give you an overview of the basic skills and techniques that are involved in management and leadership. Once you have developed a good grasp of these basic principles, you can graduate to books dealing with more specific matters, such as different leadership styles, upper-level management, and how to apply your leadership skills in the real world. In this way, you can give yourself a fairly good crash course. This method is especially economical if you happen to have a digital device on which you can download and read ebooks, as there are many excellent books on this subject available in digital format.

Alternatively, you can look into the possibility of attending a leadership seminar. This is a much more hands on approach, but it can be very effective, particularly for the person with no basis or background in management. Such seminars usually last several hours, and present participants with many different tools and skills that they can apply in their own careers to develop their leadership abilities. These events are often the best method for developing your skills, as they are usually hosted and presented by real experts in leadership and management who can give you a very concentrated view of the things that have worked for them in their own careers. In other words, these seminars can cut straight to the best and most effective management tools out there. To find a seminar to attend, you can perform an online search for leadership conferences or seminars in your area. In there are none coming up, don’t fret. You can also attend an online webinar for the same information. This will be the most expensive method of the three we discuss here, but can also be the most effective.

Finally, you can find yourself a personal leadership mentor. This doesn’t need to be a professional coach or management teacher, but simply someone you know with experience in the field. If you currently work for a company that you would like to advance in, you might even ask your own manager or supervisor to help you learn the skills you will need to move forward. This gives you a one on one resource for learning leadership skills. Anyone with good experience and management skills will suffice as a mentor, including friends or family members. Your mentor should be someone who is willing to answer questions, practice different management scenarios with you, and guide you through the process of developing your own skills.

These three methods may be the best, but there are far from being the only ones. You can take college courses on business management, sign up for online based courses, or even just jump in by finding a lower level management position and learning as you go. The point is, you don’t need to be a born leader in order to have leadership skills. Like anything else, they can be taught. So, if you want to better your career by advancing into a management position, look into these different ways of learning the skills you will need to be successful in that position. You will very likely be surprised at how fast you can learn them.


The Effective Chairman – 10 Top Tips

The role of chairman is critical to any meeting’s level of achievement. An effective chairman will get things decided. This can be a very tall order since different personalities and ideas are needed for a creative environment. The key is to focus on the objectives. Here are ten suggestions for keeping the meeting on track:

1. Have an agenda for every meeting. It will usually be prepared by the secretary and chairman but if it’s a quick informal meeting you can simply start with “we need to sort out x” or “today I hoped we could finalize x and y”. This gets everyone there into focus on why the meeting is happening. Stick to it.

2. Allow people to have their say but once they start repeating themselves or getting off-track, stop them and ask for other views. At the same time, it is important that the speaker feels they have been heard. One way to move on is to thank them and then pick on someone else for a contribution, preferably the person who talks the least. E.g. “thanks Jim, that’s a good point. Donna, did you have any thoughts on this?”

3. An effective chairman is building a consensus. It is very important that your meeting doesn’t reach a conclusion prematurely, while people haven’t expressed their views but once they have, put it to the vote and move on. Usually, a reminder of ‘we’re here to …’ will bring people back on track.

4. Give the discussion a time limit, e.g., “If we can’t reach a conclusion in the next ten minutes, we will have to move on to the next item.”

5. Keep the meeting to the defined time. Meetings that are supposed to be an hour long but last two and a half hours don’t make anybody happy. Make sure you start the meeting on time and finish on time or earlier. If the agenda contains too much to achieve in the time, propose an item be deferred to the next meeting. People will co-operate if they feel that their time is appreciated.

6. Make sure items have actions. Most meetings are to develop a way forward or to keep a project on track. If it’s just for people to get together then it’s not a meeting, it’s a social gathering and doesn’t need a chairman. If it’s for the exchange of information, it may be more efficient to share emails to a distribution list. That would also provide a better written record. Actions should have a proposed delivery time or time limit and record the person who is going to carry it out. The secretary should be capturing the action, who will do it and when it is to be done

7. If someone raises an item not on the agenda and wants it discussed, ask if you can put it later in the agenda – maybe under ‘any other business’ and have those attending agree to its addition to the agenda. Or it can go onto the next meeting’s agenda.

8. Decisions need to be recorded, even for an informal meeting. Afterward, people don’t remember all that happened, and the record is critical to ensure everyone is working on the same plan.

9. Summarize. Summarize before every vote. Make sure everyone is voting on the same thing. If the discussion wanders, it can be useful to summarize the developments so far and check that it relates to the objective.

10. Don’t allow other conversations at the same time. E.g. “please can we have one person speaking at a time, otherwise the secretary can’t do his (or her) job.” Having said it once, people will respond if you cut off other conversations.

The role of chairman can be very demanding, but it becomes easier when people understand and respect that you will run your meetings efficiently. They can trust that their attendance won’t be a waste of time and will be much more inclined to play their part.


About the Author: Rafael Magaña helps organizations grow. Helps leaders accelerate strategy implementation in their organizations. Specializes in leadership, management, and philanthropy. He has published more than 160 scholarly articles. Visit and connect with him on LinkedIn and on Twitter: @RafaelMagana

Copyright 2019 by Rafael Magaña.