Things You Shouldn’t Say at Your Job Interview

By Olga Tretyak

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Talking about yourself at a job interview is not that easy. In this post, I will tell you what you should and shouldn’t say when you want to get a job.

If you’ve been in a job interview at least once, you know about the tricky question “Tell us about yourself”. What should you say? How should you say it? What does an HR want to hear? Nobody knows.

But you don’t have to be afraid of this question: a person, who asks it, also wants you to succeed at this interview. And there are things that your interviewer is interested in. There are also things that don’t have to be mentioned. Let’s clarify both variants. 

When you are asked to tell about yourself, remember two rules:

  • Don’t tell them the story of your life.
  • Tell the information useful to your employer.

The first rule is quite simple. You interviewer doesn’t need to know your life story and he or she will not sit and listen to it for an hour. Instead of that, give them some useful information, for instance:

Your recent professional achievements;

  • Education achievements;
  • Useful skills;
  • Career goals;
  • Why you are interested in this company.

It is recommended to talk about each of those things for about 30 seconds. Thus, you’ll have a self-presentation for 2,5 minutes. Here is what you should mention speaking about each of the categories.

Recent career achievements


  • 3–5 of your last achievements.
  • Mention achievements that apply to the position you want to get.
  • Practice, practice, practice. This is the most important part. You should get prepared for it beforehand.


  • Retelling your resume.
  • Say useless things about your experience in other spheres.

Education achievements


  • Explain how your abilities will help you manage your duties.
  • Say what you learnt during the last working month.
  • Tell them about the experience that you got working on your biggest project.


  • Telling about all the levels of your education (school, college, courses, etc.)
  • Retelling your resume.
  • Speaking about the skills that won’t be of any use in your potential job.

Useful skills


  • Prepare 2-4 useful skills.
  • Say about how they can be useful in practice.
  • Tell about how you developed those skills.


  • Telling about the skills that have nothing to do with this job (If you are at an interview for an account manager position, for example, don’t say “I played in a rock-band”, “my paintings made the gallery”, etc.).
  • Lying about your skills.

Your employer may check your information if he/she decides to give you this job. So, lying about your skills and abilities is not an option. Just choose 2-4 things that you are really good at and speak about them.

Career goals


  • Mention the goals that this company can help you achieve.
  • Speak about the goals that would tell that you are thinking about your future.
  • Show them that you want stability and career development.


  • Don’t speak about your life goals (I want to buy a house and have kids).
  • Don’t mention the goal that this company cannot help you achieve.
  • Don’t say the things that may show your incompetence.

Even if you don’t have clear goals, make up some, because a person with no goals may seem incompetent.

Why you are interested in this company


  • Speak about how this company can help you achieve your goals.
  • Say that you like their working environment.
  • Make a hint that you see yourself in this company in the future.


  • Don’t talk about the salary.
  • Don’t say that you just need a job.
  • Don’t say that you want to work here because people here are nice.

Preparing a story about yourself based on these rules will spare you some uncomfortable pauses and spare your employer from hearing the information he/she doesn’t want to hear.


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