8 Words Never to use in Interview FRIDAY, 23 MARCH 2018

Having “scoured” (no really) the internet for opinions on interview rules and practices it is interesting to see what others suggest as useful hints and examples on how to nail your interview. But are these examples correct?

So do we as Recruiters agree or disagree?

1. Nervous
Potential employers unequivocally hate hearing interviewees use this word. Never walk into an interview and tell the person interviewing you that you’re nervous or use it as an excuse for giving poor answers to interview questions – you’ll be seen as lacking in confidence. This is one case where honesty is certainly not the best policy!

CV Screen Disagrees: As an interviewee, sometimes nerves get the better of you. If you are open and honest in an interview, then your nervousness will be apparent anyway. Highlighting it won’t lose you points and it will not always seem like an excuse. If you were to say that you are nervous then bolster it with an explanation as to why you might be so worked up. “I’m just very excited by this company based on the research I’ve done.” There are occasions where nervousness is a major part of the feedback given by HR or hiring managers, but the truth is that nine times out of ten it is often not the reason that someone has failed to secure the role. There are some positions / environments where the HR suggests that this interviewee would be “eaten alive”, but that is uncommon. The key is to ensure that your personality shines through.

2. Um
We probably don’t need to tell you that using “um” in an interview is a big no-no, but unfortunately you may not always realize how much you’re using it – especially if you’re nervous. Practice mock interviews with a friend or family member beforehand to train the habit out, and when you’re nervously trying to think of an answer to a question just stay quiet instead of feeling like you have to say something to fill the space – especially if that something tends to be “um!”

CV Screen Disagrees: This just doesn’t go far enough! There are many words that can take the place of um, such as, Hmm, interesting question, okay, and all of them are trying to buy you time. One response might be to repeat the question you have been asked, but try not to seem confused by the question.

3. I
In today’s culture-centric employment world, you’re only as good as your ability to work as part of a team.

While competitiveness is a great trait to demonstrate, overusing sentences like “I was the top salesperson in my company” can give off the impression that you’ll take it too far, pushing your colleagues down and aside in order to get to the top.

By all means, brandish your achievements, but let your interviewer know what that meant for the team and/or the company. For example, “I was the top salesperson in my last role during 2013, which meant I was able to exceed my targets by £1.2 million during that year.”

CV Screen Disagrees: The interviewer is there to hear about you and your achievements. If you are discussing your work history, then makes certain you are highlighting your skills and achievements in an obvious way. You can make note of collaborations, but give examples relevant to the question in hand.

4. Hate
There is probably no situation in which using this word in an interview is appropriate. Interviewers literally hate it! When a recruiter hears you say this word they may put you down as a high risk candidate. Also, avoid speaking disparagingly of any previous jobs, colleagues, or bosses. Remember, no one likes a hater!

CV Screen Agrees: This is just Biblical truth!

5. Sure
This is another one of those confidence reducing words that will only make you sound wishy washy in an interview. When you say sure, what your interviewer hears is “almost, but not quite, maybe a yes.” Remove any ambiguity about your opinion or stance by giving a firm “yes” or “no” and leaving the “sures” by the wayside.

CV Screen Disagrees: “Sure” is a positive word. It reinforces the positive and is often the precursor to further responses and solutions. Again, this has everything to do with your personal. Remember it is sure not over confident.

6. Slang
Before you head to your big job interview, pack your slang away into a drawer in some dusty, abandoned part of your brain because you won’t be needing it! Using slang words like “OMG,” “cool,” and “groovy” in an interview will only serve to make you appear unprofessional and unpolished. It’s not cool to make your potential boss suffer through that jungle of urban slang!

CV Screen Agrees: A professional does not use slang, but then corporate buzz-words can be just as big a turn off for an employer. Here at CV Screen we are not big fans of someone calling to “touch base” or telling us they are part of the marketing “piece” – just examples of how phrases have been dropped into our conscious communication and are just as lazy and troublesome as slang.

7. Perfectionist
Using the word ‘perfectionist’ as a way to put a spin on your biggest weakness has become a huge cliché and you’ll probably only accomplish making the hiring manager cringe – outwardly and inwardly. Any good interviewer will see right through this ploy and give you pass, so avoid the word altogether if you really want to impress.

CV Screen Agrees: Come up with an actual answer. If you are fully prepared for your interview then you can give a clear and honest description of your faults. If you know about them then you can directly explain that you are doing something about them.

8. Fired
This is a controversial word with recruiters because they’ll pin you as a troublemaker if they hear you say it – and that perception can be hard to change. Being fired from a past job doesn’t mean you’re automatically barred from getting another, but you need to talk about it diplomatically to create the right impression. Simply use the words ‘let go’ and explain a little about what you learned from the experience and how it made you better.

CV Screen Agrees: You can always come up with a better explanation than outright admitting to being fired, but again honesty is the best policy. We have had applicants get offered a role before and then the offer being rescinded when their reasons for leaving employment clashed with their previous employers’ own version of events. It wasn’t the fact that someone was “let go”, but the fact that they lied about it.

About the Author

Peter Strutt is a Senior Recruitment Consultant at CV Screen, specialising in IT, Marketing and Finance recruitment throughout the UK.

For more information or general recruitment advice, please speak to Peter on 0345 200 8170 or email  


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