Words to Avoid in an Interview
I was recently asked about things job seekers do that ruin their chances of getting hired. We often focus on what you should do—what to wear, how to make your resume stand out, making a good first impression, and even keywords for the interview. But what about the things you should avoid? If you apply for a position and you don’t get it, either someone else was a better fit or more qualified for the job or you did something to kill your chances of advancing through the hiring process.
Expert interview coaches have compiled lists of words and phrases to avoid using. Having over 30 years of HR experience at top companies, here are 11 words to eliminate from your vocabulary—at least during your interview—from Barry Drexler.
You guys. This is most often used by the younger generation, out of college. It sounds like slang and is too informal. You’re interviewing for a career, not chatting with friends. Use their names, the company name, or even just “the company” and you’ll be far better off.
Perfectionist. Along with this one are hard-worker and people-pleaser. Buzz words can catch attention, but when they’re cliche and overused, they won’t make you stand out. Try something more personal and descriptive of yourself.
Comfortable. When employers hear a potential employee use this word, they assume you want it easy. Maybe you’ll take short cuts or just don’t have the drive to get things done. Don’t aim for “comfortable,” aim for challenging and rewarding.
Work-life balance. It’s more of a hot topic these days as we try to get a little “self care” in. But your boss doesn’t want to hear about that during your interview or they’ll be worried about your work ethic. They want you to work, not leave at 4:59pm every day to make sure you get that life balance in there.
Like. When I was in college, my professor had this word taped to his office door with a big line through it. He’d kick you right out if you used it during conversation! I thought it harsh at the time, but it certainly helped me in the long run. During interviews, you want to avoid it in the sense of saying “I like doing this” or “I will like working here.” Liking it doesn’t mean you’re good at it and it really has no meaning. You can say, “I do this well” instead.
Can’t. An interview is not a time to be negative. Words like “can’t” and “don’t” won’t fly. If you really “don’t” have a skill they’re asking you about or you “can’t” get to work at that time of day, come up with a different answer that conveys you will try, you’re willing to learn, or you are determined to figure it out.
Fired. You don’t have to disclose if a previous job fired you and the potential employer can’t get that information from your last job. So just don’t bring it up. You can say you felt it was time to move to other opportunities. Stay positive about past jobs, companies, bosses, and co-workers, even if it ended terribly!
You should. Or you shouldn’t. It’s not really your place to tell a company what they’re doing wrong or what they should be doing. You don’t work there yet and need to be careful with the way you come across during an interview. Instead, try something like, “in my experience…”
Have you used any of these words or phrases while job searching? Find more job tips on our TransHire website.