Phrases to Avoid in Job Interviews

Looking to find THE job ?  Here are tips about what not to say during your interview.  And want you might want to say instead.

By Joshua Greenberg and Work + Money

Interviews are intimidating. The pressure of sitting across from a person — or a group of people — with the power to shape your future can make it hard to think of what to say, or how to say it well.

In most instances, a resume might get you in the door, but the interview will get you the job. It puts a lot of meaning on what you say in a very limited period of time — and how you say it.

The problem in nailing the job often isn’t qualifications. Rather, good candidates take themselves out of the running by expressing themselves inartfully when it counts the most.

Avoiding the following key phrases can take you from being just another applicant to a finalist for the job.

Set the Right Tone

At the outset of most interviews, the interviewer might ask if you’d like anything to drink, like coffee or a glass of water. It’s very easy to respond with a casual phrase like, “I’m fine,” but doing so would be unprofessional.

While you by no means have to accept the offer, you should turn it down in a more formal manner. For example, try, “No, thank you. I’m all set for now.” It’s longer, but it’s more formal and more polite. It shows that you respect and appreciate the offer.

Just adding the “thank you” goes a long way toward changing the tone of your response. In a job interview, the more polite and respectful you sound, the more professional you appear.

Don’t Overdo It

Those who utter this phrase believe it makes them seem impressive. What employer wouldn’t want an employee that does everything perfectly, or who at least strives toward it? On its face, it seems an innocuous phrase and perhaps even one that could catch an ear. But it carries several issues.

First, it’s just too common. Employers hear far too often that candidates are “perfectionists,” and it simply does nothing to make a person stand out. More importantly, employers know it’s not true. No employer has ever hired a perfect employee, so they know that anyone claiming to be perfect can never live up to it.

Most employers also don’t want a so-called perfectionist on their staff. They want someone who isn’t afraid to make mistakes. That’s how employees learn. They also don’t want someone who will get so bogged down in minor, ultimately unimportant details that they neglect their other tasks and sacrifice productivity.

Claiming to be a perfectionist can make one seem new to the job market, and new to interviewing. If you want to come off as a savvy worker willing to learn, you’ll have to admit to some flaws.

Careful Not to Seem Lazy

Comfort is like perfection: nice in theory, but hard on the interviewer’s ears. While a potential employer does want someone who is familiar with their potential responsibilities, they don’t want someone who will be too comfortable. “Comfortable” can be cause for concern.

Comfortable can make the interviewer think the candidate isn’t looking for a challenge or isn’t looking to grow in their job. It signals the person is looking to coast.

While you should express your ability to perform the job tasks, employers also want to hear that you’re looking for something that will take you out of your comfort zone and challenge you, at least a little bit.

Shooting Yourself in the Foot

This is a tough one. On one hand, employers like it when they don’t have to micromanage an employee. However, telling an interviewer that you work well with limited supervision could make them think that’s the only kind of supervision you work well under.

Independence is nice, but you have to be able to take direction and, in most cases, you have to be able to work well as part of a team.

In almost any interview, the interviewer is looking for someone who will fit well with the team they already have in place. Let them know you can work on your own, but be sure you don’t come off as a lone wolf.

Speak Plainly

This word should be eliminated from almost all professional conversation, and particularly from your interview vocabulary. Unless you’re describing an otherwise metaphoric or hyperbolic situation that actually happened to you, there’s almost never a reason to use the word “literally.” And in most interviews, there will not be a reason to tell such an outlandish tale.

It’s an unnecessary and mostly meaningless modifier. When interviewing, you should avoid hyperbole and metaphor. Speak plainly and honestly. In other words, be literal. Your interviewer will assume you are, and there’s no need to confirm that you are by using the word.

Chat Up Your Actual Interests

Like the preceding phrase, this one can be tough to carry off successfully.

It’s something people want to say, particularly when interviewing for a job they aren’t familiar with. A willingness to try new things is perfectly fine, and has merits. It can let employers know that you aren’t afraid to do whatever they require.

However, it also can make you seem unfocused, as if you’re just applying to jobs for the sake of finding anything at all, instead of finding something you can excel at.

It’s certainly true that you might not know how good you’ll be at a job until you try it, but you should be able to give a few reasons why you think you’ll do well with whatever new task the job will present to you.

There are 19 more phrases to avoid saying.  You can find the entire article at:


Author: Dennis Hickey

There are no limits to success to those who never stop learning. Learning will also nourish your personal growth. I hope you enjoy this website and visit often so you keep learning and growing too!

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