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3 Pieces of Information You Should Never Share in a Job Interview and What to Say Instead, From a Recruiting Manager Here's what not to say — and what to mention instead.

By Bonnie Dilber

Key Takeaways

  • Bonnie Dilber has been working in recruiting for nearly a decade.
  • Employers want to hire people who are low risk and high reward.
  • Dilber says candidates should be careful not to talk about job search challenges or planned leaves.
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Fanatic Studio/Gary Waters/Getty Images via Business Insider
Bonnie Dilber warns of three topics you should avoid discussing in a job interview.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

I've been in recruiting for nearly 10 years and a hiring manager for even longer, working in education, non-profits, and tech.

When interviewing with a hiring manager as a candidate, my advice is always to be very discerning about what you share. Like in any other conversation, you want to consider what matters to the person you're talking to when considering what information will be most relevant or compelling to them.

There are some things you should never say. Here are three things I would never bring up in an interview:

1. Challenges in previous jobs or with your job search

In an interview, the hiring manager is looking for someone who makes them confident they can deliver strong results for the company. Some things I've heard job seekers share before — like challenges in previous workplaces or how tough the market is — can distract the hiring manager from seeing them as the strongest candidate.

It may even leave them thinking the candidate is the problem.

They might wonder:

  • Is this candidate struggling to land a job because of the market, or are other companies noticing something concerning?

  • Was their previous manager really difficult to work with, or are they the difficult one?

  • Was the culture truly toxic or high-pressure, or were they a low performer?

There's no reason to bring up being terminated or leaving under negative circumstances. Instead of sharing what went poorly in the past, focus on what excites you for the future. Here are some things you can say instead:

  • "I'm holding out for the right opportunity, and I really see that with this role specifically because I've planned over 30 virtual events over the last few years, and really see this playing to my strengths."

  • "I'm really eager to work under a manager I can learn from — looking at some of the initiatives you've led here, I know I can add value, and continue to stretch in my role under your leadership."

  • "One of the things that stood out to me when reading reviews about working here are the trust and autonomy. I've worked in some environments that were more rigid — I think this will really allow me to bring my creativity and strategic thinking skills to my role."

2. Upcoming parental leave, medical needs, planned vacations, etc.

Employers are not legally allowed to discriminate against jobseekers who are pregnant or who may need accommodations, but it's very hard to prove that these are the reasons a job seeker wasn't considered for a role. Employers may not even realize they are doing it due to implicit bias.

They aren't allowed to ask, and you're under no obligation to disclose this information during an interview process either.

If you bring one of these topics up in your first conversation and you're one of five strong candidates, they may simply decide to move forward with the other people. At that point, they aren't that invested enough in you yet to discuss potential accommodations.

When you bring up parental leave, accommodation needs, or vacation plans later in the process, such as at the offer stage, the hiring team is now really excited about you and might be more eager to figure out how to find accommodations as needed. You've shown them that you can have a greater impact than any other candidate, so they're now more likely to be motivated to figure out a solution that works for everyone.

3. Being overly enthusiastic about the compensation, perks, and benefits rather than the job and opportunity for impact

Companies that offer great compensation and benefits do so because they want to attract great talent. Even so, they want to hire people who are passionate about the work and can move the needle. Your job isn't to convince them that they are a great employer; it's to convince them you can deliver great results.

Focus on what you can give rather than what you can get.

Why do you want this job? Talk about why you want the actual position and the company's product or service, not that the great compensation piqued your interest.

What makes you a great fit for the role? Highlight the skills you bring that will make you a great fit and how they will translate to impact, not that you prefer to work remotely.

What excites you most about this opportunity? Discuss a specific initiative or work stream that excites you, not that you really want a more flexible culture.

In a competitive job market, employers have a lot of awesome talent to choose from. They want to hire people who are low risk and high reward. The more you can do to show off the impact you can have and minimize any concerns about your ability to contribute, the stronger your chances are of getting hired.

Bonnie Dilber is the business recruiting team lead at Zapier. Before moving into tech, she spent years in education and nonprofits as a teacher, program manager, and recruitment leader.

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