No matter your age, your experience, or your confidence – the potential to sabotage a job interview exists for everyone. You are selling yourself during the process, beginning with the words you choose to describe your background to salary negotiation. You are constantly revealing information about yourself; painting a picture of your character with words.
What you say matters!
Unfortunately, there are words so many people use during job interviews that do more harm than good. Here are five common word mistakes to avoid during a conversation with a potential employer.
- You are too familiar.
It is important to remember that you are interviewing for employment, not trying to make a new friend. Too much slang or informal phrases like “I’m sure you guys are aware…” can hurt your chances by making you look unprofessional.
- You are too vague.
Your interviewer wants a lot of information; specific information about you and your experience. Elaborate. Be clear and concise. Do not use phrases like:
- A lot
- A great deal of
Additionally, if you use too few words to answer a question it will be impossible to make a judgement as to whether you are the right person for the position.
- Your words are weak.
Weak, small words can ruin your credibility. Avoid phrases like:
- Pretty good
- Kind of
- Most of the time
Instead, stand firm and demonstrate your knowledge – especially as it pertains to your experience and practice area(s) you specialize in.
- You ramble.
This is a common problem among people who go into a job interview unprepared. They easily ramble and go off the subject, wasting the interviewer’s time. A good rule of thumb: Keep your answers shorter than 2-to-3 minutes.
- You use confusing pronouns.
The use of pronouns “we,” “I,” and “you.” make a difference. Use the wrong pronoun and you may potentially confuse the person you are talking to.
When referring to your experience – even if it involved a team project – always refer to yourself (ie “I”) first before using “we” to tie in the team initiatives.
“I worked with a team of associates to bring a matter in on time. We each took responsibility for a particular area and managed to pull the case together on deadline.”
Finally, remember that the words you choose to use during a job interview send a strong message. The higher level of responsibility, the more detail and examples will be required to demonstrate your ability and experiences. Be specific and take great care to add stories of your accomplishments to boost your credibility.