Receiving an invitation for a job interview can be an exciting time – especially after you’ve been job-searching for a while.
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to kill off all your chances of getting a job by saying just a few wrong words during your job interview.
To make sure your job interview leads to the next round or a job offer, here’s a list of words which you should aim to avoid.
The biggest problem with this word is that you’re probably unaware of how much you use it.
If you listened to a recording of yourself, you’d probably be surprised (and probably horrified) at the amount of “umming” you do.
Unfortunately, this makes you look less polished during a job interview.
One of the best ways to remove this filler from your vocabulary is to let your friends and family know that you want their help and they can profit from it. Tell them that you’ll pay a dollar to every person who catches you using it.
Not only does this word make you sound like a teenager, it also introduces vagueness into your answers.
To make sure you come across confident and mature, replace “kinda” with clear “yes” or “no”. Follow your answer with a clear reason why you’ve taken that position.
Nobody likes a hater. When a hiring manager or recruiter hears you say that word, they hear “high risk candidate”.
Avoid aiming this word at anyone or anything during your job interview. This includes “pet hates”, as well as feelings towards companies, ex-colleagues and – especially – bosses you’ve had.
Any Curse Word
Even if you think the company culture might find such words acceptable, don’t risk it at the interview stage.
You’re risking coming across as unprofessional and crass. ‘Nuff said.
This is the most popular among overused, meaningless cliches.
There was a time when “I’m a perfectionist” was a clever way to get out of a question about your weaknesses. These days, any interviewer worth their salt will see through this ploy and cringe on the inside at your answer (and maybe on the outside, as well).
It’s tempting to use this word as a prelude to your achievements. For example, “Basically, I was responsible for flying the capsule to the Moon and back.”
Unfortunately, doing this also diminishes you. So, unless you’re Buzz Aldrin, skip it and launch straight into your answer.
In today’s culture-centric employment world, you’re only as good as your ability to work as part of a team.
While competitiveness is a great trait to demonstrate, overusing sentences like “I was the top salesperson in my company” can give off the impression that you’ll take it too far, pushing your colleagues down and aside in order to get to the top.
By all means, brandish your achievements, but let your interviewer know what that meant for the team and/or the company. For example, “I was the top salesperson in my last role during 2013, which meant I was able to exceed my targets by $1.2 million during that year.”
It’s tempting to use this word to communicate “it’s almost a yes.”
However, doing this also chips away at your ability to appear confident. Just as with “Kinda” above, it’s best to remove any ambiguity about where you stand.
Use a firm “yes” or “no” instead, expanding on your position if necessary by providing reasons and examples.
This is a word which is often used as a filler to convey positivity. The hiring manager might say, for example, “We just spent $20 million on a brand new office fit-out.”
Instead of blurting out “Amazing!” to validate that choice, take a moment to think about the reasons behind such a move and provide analysis which the interviewer would find relevant. For example: “That must have done wonders for employee satisfaction.”
“Whatever” is usually used to communicate that you’ve given up. It shows that you lost power and withdrew from the issue, instead of achieving an outcome which you found satisfactory.
It also makes you sound immature and dismissive – using it will communicate to the interviewer that you’re trouble.
Not only is this word overly casual in tone, it introduces ambiguity into your answers.
It can be tempting end your answer with it when you’re struggling to add detail – for example, “You now – stuff like that.” Doing sufficient research and practicing your answers will reduce that desire. Your interviewer doesn’t, in fact, know – they want to hear it from you in detail.
In today’s job market, everyone is dedicated. It’s no longer a differentiating feature.
It’s also a hollow, overused cliche which shows that you probably copied your answers from the Internet, rather than preparing sufficiently for the interview by thinking about the role and your career.
Demonstrate to your interviewer that you’re dedicated by talking about your achievements
This also includes synonymous buzz-words like “self-starter” and “enthusiastic.”
You might think that you’re telling your interviewer that you don’t need a babysitter, but all they’re thinking at that moment is “Thanks for the obvious. You’re wasting my time.” You might as well tell them that you have a pulse.
Don’t ever tell your interviewer that you’re applying for a job to “learn.”
It’s true that you’re expected to learn, but the primary motivation for applying should be your your ability to contribute something to the company that no-one else can.
You want to avoid this word at all costs. It can contextualize you in the interviewer’s mind as a troublemaker, and once that context is set, everything positive about you will be diminished and everything negative will be amplified.
Having been fired doesn’t automatically put you into the “no” pile. However, not being able to talk about it diplomatically will.
If you were fired due to under-performance, use the words “let go” instead. Explain how you used the experience to become a better employee. “I’m glad it happened because I needed to become a better marketer. In my next role I created a direct response campaign which exceeded the targets by 20%.”
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