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Phrases You Should Avoid in a Job Interview

March 19, 20236 min read

Phrases You Should Avoid in a Job Interview


You got the job interview you desired? Congrats! It's time to make your best impression. These are some phrases you should avoid in a job interview! One major lesson that many of us will carry for decades (if not forever) is the great awakening about what fulfills us versus what does not. Nothing puts that into context quite like stay-at-home mandates, low finances, and days spent in pajamas that the pandemic(s) have caused.

Receiving an offer to a job interview may be an exciting moment, particularly if you've been looking for work for some time. During an interview, your primary drive is to convince the recruiter that you are the best applicant for the position.

Below are some phrases you should avoid in a job interview!  

So, Explain What it is You Do Around Here.

The first principle when interviewing is: Do your homework. You do not want to come into an interview knowing little to nothing about the position or organization; instead, you want to demonstrate that you're interested enough to conduct research and consider how you'd fit in. To begin, do some internet research and attempt to locate a current or former employee with whom you may speak before the big day.

Ugh, My Previous Company...

You should never, ever disparage a previous employer in an interview, no matter how bad the employment was. Maintain a neutral yet positive tone, emphasizing the lessons you've learned from each encounter and what you would like to achieve in the future. This is particularly true when discussing your reasons for leaving.

I Wasn't Friends With My Boss

Likewise, you don't want to talk poorly about somebody you've previously worked with. Even if your prior boss was the worst manager in the world, your interviewer may not be aware of this—and may question whether you're the tough one to deal with.

I'm quite nervous.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that this is a phrase you should avoid during a job interview. Even if you're over-anxious and nervous, no employer is interested in employing someone lacking self-confidence. In this circumstance, then, honesty won't be the best policy. Fake it! 

I'll do whatever it takes.

Most recruiting managers are searching for employees that are really enthusiastic about the position they are taking on. Whenever you say something like, "I don't care what positions you have available—I'll do anything!" It's a massive red flag. Instead, narrow your search to a single job at each organization, and be prepared to explain why it's the perfect fit.

I'm aware that I lack experience, but...

diverse interview

This is undoubtedly a phrase you should avoid during a job interview, particularly if you are a new graduate or a job transition. When you apologize for lack of experience, you're effectively suggesting that you're not a good hire, that you're not nearly the appropriate match for the position, or that you'd be starting from scratch. That simply isn't the case! Instead of focusing on your flaws, be positive, emphasize your strengths, and go right into your transferable talents and contagious excitement for the role.

It's on my CV.

Please! Avoid this phrase during a job interview. Here's the deal: I know it's on your résumé, but if I'm questioning you about a specific position or work history, I would like you to tell me more than a written word. I'm assessing your social and communication abilities. Are you well-spoken? Should you be client-facing? If a recruiter asks you about a specific talent, don't resort to your résumé; instead, use it as an opportunity to shine.

I Believe in Thinking Outside the Box.

Resume buzzwords cause hiring managers' eyes to glaze over and utilizing clichés in an interview will get you nowhere. Instead of employing overused business jargon, explain your talents and abilities using anecdotes about genuine things you've done.

I, like, built systems that grew numbers by 30%...

Filler words like “like” and “uh” might make you seem insecure or, worse, incapable of communicating adequately on the job.

How much time do I have off?

When you immediately respond with a series of "WIIFM" (what's in it for me?) inquiries, you seem pompous and, simply, unpleasant. Guess what interviewers are looking for: what you can accomplish for them. What can you do to earn money for that firm, enhance business processes, expand the organization, and, most saliently, make their lives easier?

How quickly do you promote your employees?

A person who asks this question may come out as entitled and arrogant. Is there a smarter method for asking this? I'd want to remain there for an extended period of time. How do typical career trajectories inside the organization look?

Steak and a glass of wine, please.

If your meeting starts over lunch or dinner, take the lead from your interviewers. Ask whether they've been to the restaurant previously and what they think are decent options—their suggestions should give you an idea of a reasonable pricing range. If not, let your employer order first, then choose something within that price range (or less). Put down the drink menu—even if your interviewer drinks, you should remain professional.

I'd want to start my own company as soon as possible.

Entrepreneurial dreams are admirable, but if you're looking for a job working elsewhere, you should definitely minimize the fact that you're looking for money for your blossoming firm. Most businesses want to recruit individuals who will be there for a long time, and if there's any suspicion that you're just there to collect a salary until you're able to start doing your own thing, you're unlikely to obtain the job.

What the hell is going on?

You'd think that avoiding cursing is basic interviewing 101, yet you'd be amazed at how often people do it. Even if the interviewer throws a few S- or F-bombs, you're much better off keeping your vocabulary PG.

Do you have any idea when we'll be done here?

Never convey the idea that you're in a rush or that you have someplace else to go. If everything goes well, a half-hour interview might stretch into a 90-minute interview, and if you seem to have something more essential to do, the interviewer will be turned off.

I'm having a difficult time right now.

Indeed, most individuals would sympathize with a person who was laid off, is dealing with a divorce, or is struggling with family conflict. They might be concerned about how your personal life may affect your professional performance. 

I'm sorry for being late.

Just be on time. That's all there is to it.

Remember this list of phrases to avoid in a job interview. Show up on time and with confidence.

Good luck! 

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