Bridge Insights

…How Should I Say This? Navigating Through Tough Interview Topics

Jul 10, 2020

Have you ever gone into an interview and left feeling like you gave TMI?

When an interview is going well, having a high level of confidence can be a bit of a double-edged sword: Confidence can lead to comfort, and comfort can lead to being overly casual in your conversation…and overly casual is unprofessional.

Carrying yourself in a warm yet professional manner during an interview is a skill. It’s okay if you find yourself unsure of how to say what you want to say.

Below are a few tips to help you build the best responses for (and navigate through) some of the more difficult interview topics:


There’s a saying in the business world: The first one to talk money typically loses.

Don’t bring up pay until the recruiter or hiring leaders inquire first. Even then, it is important to do your research beforehand; be cognizant of market pay rates, and build a case –with examples– to justify your target pay.


Candidate: “How long until I get promoted?”
Interviewer: 🙄

Asking this question before you’ve spent time in a role can come off as overly aggressive and entitled behavior. Even if your intent is to showcase your ambitions and desire to grow within a company, asking in this manner is a bad look.

If you are interested in career paths, inquire about career development options or mentorship programs within the company; asking in this way will provide similar insight. It also frames your inquiry in a way that is more about helping the company than helping yourself.

Time Off

Everyone has time commitments. It’s important to be honest about pre-planned vacation days so the employer can build your training schedule and obtain coverage if needed. However, there is a difference between asking for certain days off and inquiring when your first day off will be –especially if you haven’t gotten your hands dirty with the actual day-to-day responsibilities of the job.

[blockquotes color=”blue” logo=”yes”] Carrying yourself in a warm yet professional manner during an interview is a skill. It’s okay if you find yourself unsure of how to say what you want to say.[/blockquotes]

Negative Speak

Not all your career experiences will be positive ones. Sometimes talking about these trying times can benefit your interview; how you articulate those experiences is important!

An interview is not the time to speak poorly of your former manager or co-workers. It’s also not the right time to go on a tangent of how you hated your last job! When speaking of times of adversity, find the positives, and focus on what you learned/how you grew from those experiences.

When in doubt, remember that less is more. It’s always better to say it wasn’t the right fit due to communication differences rather than stating your former boss was a hermit who didn’t talk to anyone.

At the end of the day, interviews are about telling a prospective employer your story, and sometimes spilling the tea on others does nothing more than create a mess.

Controversial Small Talk

The desire to connect with your interviewer on a personal level is natural. You want to establish a connection, so they remember you beyond Interviewee #4.

However, in making small talk, there are certain topics –like politics and religion—that should be avoided.
If you are asked how your weekend was, it’s best to give a broad answer like attending a party or hanging out with family. Stating that that party with your family was a huge kegger and you got totally sloshed may not land like you think it will with your interviewer.

Not Asking Questions

If you are prepared for an interview, you’ve done your research beforehand. Even though you studied up and memorized everything there is to know about a job and a company, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to ask questions yourself!

Having questions prepared for a hiring leader shows the interviewer you did your research and came prepared. Even if your questions are to fill in some of the gaps from your research, it shows you’re engaged in your interview, and interested in learning more.

Inappropriate Language

It is always important to be yourself during an interview; however, it’s also important to remember it’s an interview. Avoid slang and curse words! As much as we’ve all felt the need to say a four-letter word now and then, these words are not a part of the corporate vernacular.

Your interview is your time to showcase your best self, and proper language is key in doing that.

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The Bottom Line

It’s important to be honest and authentic in an interview. However, being overly confident can be construed as arrogance, entitlement, or insincerity.

Your authentic self does not have to conflict with your professional self. By keeping these tips in mind, you can be sure to show hiring leaders that your confidence during an interview is the kind that helps you navigate through tough situations with ease.