Words You Should Avoid in An Interview

Your error free resume has been vetted and you’ve been called in for an interview. You’ve practiced answering the important questions in front of a friend or mirror and your clothes are all laid out. You think you’re ready to go.

But remember this. Not only does what you say matter, what you avoid saying in an interviews can be just as important.

Here are six categories for words you should avoid in an interview…

1)  Filler words

Filler words are used by people who don’t like to hear silence when they are thinking.
By filling in the quiet with words such as, um, uh, actually, basically, and like, you give the impression that you lack confidence in your answers. Picture this: an interviewer asks you what your hobbies are and you say, “Well, um, basically, like I, uh, enjoy skiing in my, uh, spare time. A moment of silence is a perfectly natural and completely acceptable  way to collect your thoughts, so that your answer sounds confident.

2) Negative words

Hate, terrible, horrible, nasty and petty are an example of words to delete from your vocabulary when speaking in an interview. Especially if you are using those words to talk about a previous job or employer. You don’t need or even want to bad mouth anyone or any situation from a former job.

3) What are you offering me? 

It’s only an interview, not a job offer. Yet. So as long as you are in your initial stage of the job hunt, stay away from these words: benefits or perks, pay or salary, compensation, vacation, PTO, etc.

By using these words, you are waving a HUGE red flag. If you mention any of these words during the initial interviewing stage, the hiring manager is probably thinking, this candidate doesn’t really care about this company or what he has to offer us. He is only thinking about what he can get.   

And then you’ll go home and wonder why you didn’t get called back for a second interview.

4) Curse words

Really, this should go without saying, but some people think it makes them look cool to drop a few f… bombs or refer to someone as a b…. Cussing in a business environment does not make you cool. It makes you look immature, classless and uneducated. Save the hell and damn words for when you are with friends. Don’t let a potential employer think you so lack communication skills that you can’t come up with a better phrase than shitty when you are speaking about the weather.

5) Words that indicate a lack of confidence

Weakness, mistakes, nervous, need and sorry are merely a few examples of words that show a lack of confidence. Sometimes you have to use a word like weakness or mistakes when a potential employer comes right out and asks you, “What do you consider your biggest weakness?”

But other than answering a direct question like that, don’t ever volunteer any information about weaknesses or mistakes in your past. It gives off a vibe of passivity and tentativeness. And for heaven’s sake don’t tell them you are nervous! They already know that. Everyone who interviews for a job is.

Telling the hiring manager you really need this job smacks of desperation. And it indicates that you might be taking this job out of circumstances and not because you really want to work for this particular company. That may give him the impression that you are looking for a job, not a career.

And unless you spill a cup of coffee on the hiring manager’s desk, knock sorry out of your vocabulary for now. Depending on how it’s used, sorry can make you look meek. As in, “I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to answer that question.”

6) Medical or personal issue words

Do not volunteer any information that the hiring manager is not allowed to ask anyway. Words like medical condition, pregnant, divorced or divorcing, or any other word that might make the interviewer wonder whether or not your personal challenges are going to get in the way of your work, should be eliminated.

Take the time to practice your answers once again with a friend and ask her to listen for any of these words. By getting rid of these wishy-washy and negative words you should avoid in the interview, you’ll be one step closer to landing that job.