Employers will be evaluating more than just your answers to job interview questions, they will also be judging you on your choice of words. I once interviewed a candidate who basically ruined his own credibility by repeating a word throughout the interview. (That word was basically.)
Me: So, it says here that you launched the new website?
Him: Basically, yes. I mean, I basically launched it.
Me: So, you didn’t actually launch the website?
Him: I was basically there for the launch.
You see what I mean. Overusing that one word in the interview was negating the accomplishments listed in the resume. Of course, individual hiring managers will have their own preferences and biases. Still, you can impress more of them by preparing your work history stories and accomplishments in advance and practicing telling them. One thing most hiring managers agree on is that ‘filler’ words such as ‘like’ or ‘um’ make a candidate appear less competent.
Those are the findings of a recent survey of over 800 hiring managers. Participants were asked which expressions they least like to hear from potential candidates in interviews. Vague words like ‘things’ or ‘stuff’ along with filler words topped the list. (And I’m pretty sure that’s what ‘basically’ was for the candidate I mentioned earlier: a nervous filler word that he couldn’t help but insert into every sentence.)
Trying to use buzzwords or industry clichés such as “low-hanging fruit” or “outside the box” were also likely to create a negative impression on interviewers.
Here are the worst words to use in an interview
- Stuff or things – Bothers 57 per cent of hiring managers
- Like or um – 51%
- Low-hanging fruit – 39%
- Game-changer – 18%
- Synergy – 18%
- Drill down – 16%
- On my radar – 16%
- Ideation – 13%
- Circle back – 13%
- ROI – 11%
- Leverage – 11%
- Outside the box – 11%
- Touch base – 9%
- Branding – 9%
Team player – 8%
Bottom line: Prepare your stories in advance. Practice talking about your career without having to stumble over your words and use filler expressions. Also, talk like a real person who is having a friendly conversation, not a corporate schmuck who is ready to leverage the outside the box low-hanging fruit that’s on their radar.