7/24/2014 9:30 PM ET|
5 words to avoid saying during a job interview
Give yourself the best chance in the interview by banishing these words and phrases from your vocabulary.
Picture it: You’re on a job interview meeting the hiring manager and upper management. It couldn’t go any better. You’re hitting the ball out of the park with specific anecdotes to illustrate your skills and relevant experience as a spot-on match for the position you’re pursuing. And then, suddenly out of nowhere, things take a turn. You blurt out one or two keywords that curtail the momentum and makes them wonder, and then you have to back track only to realize the best way to handle the situation is to not murmur another word relevant to that topic.
That’s right, we’re talking about several words to avoid at all costs during any stage of interviews.
1. “Obsessed.” Yes, obsessed can connote an intense, passionate emotion, but when you say it in a prospective job situation, hiring managers might immediately think about "Fatal Attraction." Considering the word technically means to talk or think about something too much, there’s another angle to it, too. Most hiring managers want to feel like they can hang out with the candidate in a job situation, that you fit well with the team and have something to shoot the breeze about aside from work. If you only live, breathe, eat and sleep work, you're not a very well-rounded individual.
Words to use instead: You can get the message across by saying you’re passionate, captivated by, immersed in or hooked by the industry.
2. “And whatnot.” Here’s the thing about fillers like “whatnot” and “you know” – they’re just that. They don’t explain anything further and don’t demonstrate anything of substance. They merely add empty words. Hiring managers want to see that you're articulate in a meaningful way, which sometimes means less is more. Think of some sentences as a tweet. Do you need to articulate what you’re saying in more than 140 characters aloud? Instead of saying, “I was responsible for leading a team of 10 people during year-end accruals and whatnot.” Simply delete the last two words and you’ll sound a lot more intelligent.
Words to use instead: Nothing. Silence is your friend. Try to visualize the sentence and simply cut out unnecessary words; this is particularly simple to do at the end of a sentence. Don’t stop there – try eliminating fillers when you’re immersed in casual conversations with family and friends. Ask yourself if those words help illustrate your point. Get into the habit of doing this casually and it will feel normal to no longer rely on fillers in interviews.
3. Curse words. What’s a little F-bomb here and there, right? Just say no! Even if the interviewer is casual and speaks with a dirty mouth, you shouldn't go there whatever you do. It may be tempting if you’re caught up in the moment and accustomed to dropping a less obscene word here and there – it may even seem innocent. But there are certainly enough words in the English language to get your point across without having to swear. Again, practice reducing your swearing, even if it sounds corny: “When travel schedules got rearranged at the last minute and it was incredibly stressful, I remember thinking, ‘Fudge, how is this going to get done?’ I came up with a plan overnight and implemented it with my team.”
Words to use instead: Sometimes you can simply eliminate the profane word altogether; in other instances, feel free to go with a squeaky-clean substitute since it still gets the point across. That’s right – the rated G-version. Ask yourself if you would feel comfortable with your seven-year-old niece hearing the words you're saying, or if you'd feel comfortable with a transcript of your interview being published on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. Keep it clean, just like you wouldn’t necessarily swear in a work-related email.
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4. “No.” Any form of this word just comes across as closed off. Even using a phrase like, “That wasn’t my job but it was hard to say no …” can be dangerous, as the hiring manager may lose sight of what you’re saying and just hear the word “no.” And sure, in some instances you may need to describe where you pushed back or had to stand up for yourself by using the word, but you always want to turn the situation into a positive.
Words to use instead: You can often turn negative situations and descriptions into more optimistic, positive ones. If you’re explaining how something couldn’t be done because you were inundated with work, or that it wasn’t your job yet it was difficult to say no, you can say, "I really wanted to take on the additional work and say yes to a colleague, but I had to remain fixated on my main priorities so I had a discussion with my manager. We decided the solution was to hire a temp to help out for the season so I could get the top priorities accomplished for the department while the temp was able to handle paperwork and answer phone calls.”
5. Describing a victim mentality. If you’re tempted to dwell on the recession or the tight job market or the abundance of competition or the temperature of the weather outside as a reason why you haven’t been working for a while or why you haven’t gotten ahead, think again. Employers don’t want to hear excuses even though they may be valid. Sure, you can say something like, “I graduated from college in the middle of the recession and as you can imagine, competition for few jobs was fierce.” You’re stating a fact and then coming up with a solution.
Words to use instead: “I decided that was the ideal time to pursue a graduate degree and now that I’ve completed it and worked in retail for two years just to make ends meet, I’m ready to put my knowledge to good use.” Don’t play victim to your circumstances; employers want to see how you thought outside the box and took initiative even when economic situations or external factors may have played a role in telling your employment story.
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I must admit, this is a segment of life that I find particularly distasteful. Now retired, I can recall only one negative job interview where I could not wait to get out of. The best advice anyone can offer is to be well groomed, well dressed, do some homework regarding the company you are interviewing with.
Also, most important, be on time, even ten minutes early shows responsibility. Be courteous, polite, respectful and of course answer every question as honestly as possible. Never, never bad mouth your former or current employer. Should you have doubts as to your ability to present yourself properly for a job interview, contact one of the many companies that will guide you to the point where you will have all the confidence you will need. This will of course cost a few dollars, but I can assure you, it will be money well spent. I could go on with a laundry list of issues regarding job interviews, however as I first stated, it is a very distasteful experience to have to endure. I sincerely hope this helps. Good luck to anyone who is today out there looking for meaningful employment.
Thanks for reading,
Never apply for a job that was previously done by 3 other people before the last downsize.
If they are looking for "Rock Stars", "Ninjas" or someone who likes "Fast paced environment", just pass on that job. These are your clues that you are applying for The Job From Hell.
No kidding? And this article is suppose to be helpful?
Please add the following words and phrases:
1) pipe bomb
2) anger management program
3) time off for rehab
4) I live in a van down by the river
I've actually been told in the first five minutes of an on-site interview, for which I had to drive three and a half hours to make, that I was "incredibly over educated and overqualified" as a candidate. Bear in mind that I had two prior phone interviews already with this person. SO, IF I AM SO "OVERQUALIFIED" WHY INVITE ME TO AN ON SITE MEETING AND ASK ME TO MAKE A NEARLY SEVEN HOUR TOTAL DRIVE TO TALK WITH YOU?
No common sense, no courtesy, no brains.
As a favor to a colleague, I once agreed to interview her friend for a paralegal position opening. The applicant seized the casual interview format and proceeded to lambaste her former employer after I said I was aware of him but didn't know him personally. What I didn't mention was that I knew his wife professionally and that their professional reputations were impeccable in the legal community. She also said s**t during the interview. When my friend asked why I didn't hire the friend she recommended I only mentioned that she used the "S word" in the interview. She completely understood.
My son is the laziest person I've ever known. His kindergarten teacher told us everyone loved him but he didn't want to do his schoolwork...just have recess. He went to HS for 4 years and I swear he NEVER ever brought home a book. He was kicked out of college for partying too much and not doing ANY assignments while supposedly trying to obtain a Broadcast degree. If it wasn't for the fact that his mother was a professor in the same department and got him back in and then helped him along he would have never gotten his degree.
However, he must be a great BS artist because he has gotten EVERY position he's ever interviewed for and making BIG money each time. Now I know he doesn't know because he barely made it through ANY school, and I know he's still the laziest person I know, so I guess the bottom line is IF you are PERSONABLE enough and LIKEABLE enough you WILL get hired no matter what your abilities or lack thereof. You'll also get the job if you're considered good looking.
Best advice I could give is if you do not feel comfortable with the person you are interviewing with, you may not be a good fit in the company. There are many positions out there, don't settle and work for a company that asks the cliché questions of "Tell me what your biggest strength/weakness is?". Those are asked by people who don't know what they are doing.
Don't be offended if a company says "no" either, it's usually good and you would not have fit in anyway.
And I wonder how many of the negative commenters here DID NOT GET THE JOB?
I have hired 1000s of people. Along with "please and thank you", these are some very very basic tips THAT WORK.
Now retired, my last interview was long before the idiotic questions they ask now. What is your biggest strength/weakness ? Are you kidding me ?
Back in the day the interview focused on your experience and work history, period. As it should be.
Basic contract. I do the job and you pay me. You don't owe me anything else and vice versa.
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