Six Empty Words To Avoid In An Interview

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In this tight job market, getting an interview is a chance to let an employer know you’re the best person for the job. It’s all about communication skills at this point—how well you express yourself, word choices and your ability to persuade an employer to give you the job. 

One of the best tactics is to be specific when you describe your work experience, skills and accomplishments. An interview isn’t a friendly chat with your Facebook friends or texting on your status. There are some words that are so overworked in everyday conversation that they just don’t mean anything anymore and can be annoying to an interviewer who wants to get some real information. Here are six overworked, tired words to take out of your interview vocabulary.

  1. Amazing. Was your last job really amazing? Is your work experience amazing? How about your communications skills? What does amazing mean? Stupifying? Unreal beyond belief? If your last job was so “amazing,” why are you looking for another job? Is this one more “amazing?” Used once in the right context, the word isn’t bad. It can be maddening when used 25 times over the course of an hour interview to describe just about everything. After the first one, it doesn’t really have much effect except being annoying.
  2. Awesome. This word really doesn’t say much at all. It’s filler, overused and just sort of thrown out there. The Grand Canyon is awesome. A shuttle launch could be described as awesome. The Taj Mahal is definitely awesome. But few of us can describe ourselves or our abilities as awesome. Your skills may be exceptional or superior, but awesome? And pairing it with "Dude" doesn't make it better.
  3. Whatever. You may be tempted to use this word when answering a “…tell me about a time when…” questions. Used alone as a comment on a situation or as a response to someone comes across as lazy and rude. It conjures up the old “valley girl” stereotype of someone who is clueless and a little arrogant. Like the first two words, it really doesn’t convey any specific meaning. 
  4. Totally. The total of what? If you mean you agree, say that. It is used as an affirmation. Interviewer: “That project seems like it was very rewarding. You: "Totally!”  Or, intensity. You: “I was totally amazed at the awesome opportunity!” (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.) You can see what happens when you string them all together. A lot of nothing!
  5. Great. This word is so overused and has lost its punch. It’s supposed to show a high level of something, but the word great is really lukewarm. With the wrong voice tone, it can be a negative. On a scale of one to 10, great is around five or six. Be specific and find some other descriptive adjectives that show proper intensity and relation to the situation.
  6. Freaking or Fricking. We all know what you really want to say, and using these substitutes don’t lessen the effect of the word they represent. They are still rude, inappropriate, borderline vulgar and don’t have a place in an interview. 

If your vocabulary is limited, buy a thesaurus or find an online version. Find specific words to describe your work experience, values, education and accomplishments without using any of the above words. Impress the interviewer with your command of the English language and yourself as someone who will be a professional and respected company representative.

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  • Kat T
    Kat T
  • Arcadia B
    Arcadia B
    This is a resourceful article and especially people with foreign languages and culture which need to know.  In my case, I've being four years not going to an interview. I am out of practice.  I would like to see how are the interviews now, their new methodology.Thank you.
  •  Sandra L. Bracamonte
    Sandra L. Bracamonte
    I will use these tips, Thank you!
  • Roger Truelove
    Roger Truelove
    Loosing these words makes for great advice for those in the 16 - 25 year old age group.  These are more current generation terms that anyone over 25 would never consider using in an interview.

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