Avoid These Words in Job Interviews: A Guide to Navigating Your Next Meeting

Two professional women engaged in a discussion, possibly reviewing key phrases to avoid using during an interview.

Navigating a job interview can be like walking through a minefield of words. Certain phrases and terminology, such as “basically”, “um”, “you know”, and overly generic terms like “hard worker”, can jeopardise your chances before you’ve even begun. Additionally, avoid clichés, negative talk about past employers, and overly ambitious claims without evidence. Understanding what wording not to use in an interview is crucial for making a positive impression and advancing in the selection process.


The Importance of Word Choice

Your word choice during an interview can reveal a lot about your attitude, mindset, and professionalism. Employers listen carefully to the language you use to gauge your suitability for the role and the company culture. Words can build bridges or walls; hence, choosing them wisely is imperative.


Words That Weaken Your Position

Avoid using qualifiers like “just,” “sort of,” or “maybe,” which can undermine your confidence and suggest uncertainty. Statements like “I just think” or “I sort of did this” dilute the impact of your achievements and contributions.


Jargon and Buzzwords: Less is More

While industry-specific terms demonstrate your knowledge, overusing jargon can make you seem out of touch or insincere. Similarly, buzzwords like “synergy,” “game-changer,” “think outside the box,” “leverage,” “pivot,” “innovative,” “disruptor,” “cutting-edge,” “value-add,” and “best practice” are often seen as filler. These phrases can detract from your message’s authenticity and may give the impression that you’re relying on trendy language rather than showcasing genuine skills and achievements. Words not to use in an interview also include overused clichés that fail to convey specific, meaningful insights about your capabilities or experiences.


Negative Language

Negative phrases like “I can’t,” “I don’t know,” or “It’s impossible” can project a defeatist attitude. Focus on what you can do and offer solutions rather than dwelling on problems.


Casual Language

An interview is a professional setting, so slang or overly casual language should be avoided. Phrases like “you know” or “like” can make you appear less polished and serious about the role.

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