October 27, 2017
If you’ve ever been the unwitting victim to the word “moist” or have had the displeasure of sitting through cringe-worthy phrases such as “firstly”, “funner”, or the always dreaded “iiregardless”, you know the impact a mis-chosen phrase can have on the average listener. If hearing certain words in social settings can conjure up this type of reaction, imagine what kind of impact the wrong turn of phrase can have when uttered during an interview.
Word choice during the job interview is a bit more complicated than sayings that are socially undesirable or grammatically poor. For prospective employers, certain words can trigger concerns regarding a candidate’s commitment, skills, professionalism or a host of other issues. While this type of critique may seem a bit…unfair…to candidates, it’s important to realize interviewers only have a limited amount of time to get to know their potential employees and buzz words, key phrases or other red flags play a big role in the all-important gut feeling. With that in mind, here are a few words you should avoid using during a job interview to maximize your chances and prevent getting thrown out of the game on a grammatical technicality.
Compensation, salary, dollars, bonus, moolah and cash are pretty much all words to avoid like the plague during a job interview. I mean, we get it, we really do. One of the primary but often hush-hushed motivations behind a candidate switching jobs is typically money. Whether this applies to your scenario or not, however, you should generally avoid talking dollars and cents until after you’ve received an offer. A good recruiter can often help you navigate the payment minefield, cueing you into the target salary long before you make a commitment.
Try, Maybe, Possibility and Potentially
We may be cheating here a bit by lumping a few distinct words into one broad category but hey, if you don’t like it then get your own blog. The reasoning behind leaving out this broad swath of grammatically correct terms has to do with commitment, tenacity and drive; in short, those soft skills that employers are fond of asking all kinds of leading questions in their attempt to uncover. Using noncommittal terms to describe past or anticipated work can make you seem like a bit of a flake. Take a firm stance on your skills, abilities and desire to move forward with the position you’re interviewing for in order to set yourself up for job-hunting success.
If we’re being honest when it comes to our own personal job histories, we’ve all most likely been in the position where we’ve left, vacated or otherwise been ex-nayed from a job. Sure, everyone else may call this scenario fired, but we prefer to think of it as a parting of ways with a less than desirable position. You should never attempt to hide the fact that you were terminated from a prior place of employment, but avoid offering the information up unless specifically asked by either your interviewer or in a job application.
Pretty Much any Four Letter Word…and some Five and Six Letter Ones as Well
Recalling the days when it wasn’t considered child abuse to apply a hearty dose of soap to cleanse the mouths of would-be curse word users might be a good tact to take for this category or words to be avoided. No matter the work environment or apparent lack of formality in interview format, curse words should be thoroughly avoided. Using slang or vulgar terms can make you appear unprofessional during the time you’re expected to be on your best behavior.
Terrible, Awful, Horrible
We all have that one negative nancy in our lives. The person who constantly complains, opines and offers up their opinion about all things they consider “the worst.” When it comes to your job interview, avoid being THAT person and leave the negativity outside the conference room door. Words such as terrible, worst, awful and hate leave strong negative impressions with your potential employer. In addition, these terms are often utilized by candidates to describe prior job roles or co-workers, another interview no-no. Keep things positive, hopeful and upbeat in order to ensure the interview moves in your direction.
So, Ummmm and Like
Last but certainly not least on our list of words to avoid during the job interview are the ever-overused conversation fillers. So, ummm, like and similar sentence gap-fillers are often signs of nervousness, used by speakers as a crutch to avoid awkward pauses. Practice interview questions with a friend, family member or even a mirror to increase your comfortability with answers and minimize the use of these painfully evidence conversation crutches.
While none of these phrases are necessarily deal breakers, eliminating problematic terms from your interview lingo can go a long way towards setting your candidacy apart from the crowd. Remember that practice makes perfect and can also help you weed out problem grammar issues from your interview vocabulary, increasing your chances at getting that call back or job offer.