Words and Phrases to Avoid When Being Interviewed


One of the most challenging parts of getting a job is the interview process. A potential employee might have everything going for him or her on paper, but even if he or she looks like the perfect candidate, he or she may not get the job if the interview does not go well. Part of what makes the interviewing process so difficult is that interviewees never know quite what questions the interviewer will ask. There is no universal, correct answer for interview questions. However, there are plenty of words and phrases that an interviewee should avoid using during an interview. Listed below are several categories interviewees should avoid when they are trying to find a job.

Unprofessional Terms

Interviewing is difficult for most interviewees, but it can be especially challenging for anyone who is new to applying for jobs. Many teenagers try and find jobs as early as high school, with even more taking on part-time work during their college years. Teenagers will have rather barebones resumes, so the interview process is even more important. Most of the jobs teenagers apply for are very competitive, since there are so many other teenagers applying, too. Everyone has to be careful with the terms they use during interviews, but teenagers are especially at risk, because they usually interview with someone from a different generation.

Teenagers must remember they are speaking with an adult and not a peer. During the interview, they should use respectful language, and avoid any slang phrases. Some of the common unprofessional words to avoid are, “whatever,” “totally,” “cool,” “awesome,” “super,” “screwed,” etc. Teenagers should think of the interview like they are writing a paper for school. If a word is not acceptable in an essay, it is not acceptable during an interview. Although it is not as common with adults, they still need to be mindful of what kinds of phrases they use as well.

In addition to unprofessional terms, interviewees must avoid unprofessional subjects. Sometimes, it is difficult to avoid getting personal, since many interviewers ask at least a few social questions. It would be rude not to answer these types of questions, but interviewees should be prompt with their answers. The interviewer is not interested in hearing all about hobbies and interests. These questions are primarily to help put the interviewee at ease, but also sometimes impact whether or not a potential employee is hired. Some interviewers may turn someone aside if it sounds like he or she would prioritize hobbies or interests over work. Again, teenagers tend to have this problem more often than adults.

Filler Phrases

Filler phrases are sometimes confused for unprofessional terms. The confusion is understandable, since using too many filler phrases is unprofessional. Filler phrases refer to any words or statements that do not actually say anything. The most common example is saying, “ahh,” or, “umm,” during a sentence. It is rare for someone not to inadvertently use a few filler phrases during an interview, which is perfectly acceptable.

One of the things that interviewers dislike is when an interviewee deliberately uses filler phrases. A common example is when after a question, the interviewee responds with some variation of, “That is a very good question.” To an interviewer, this makes it seem like the person he or she is interviewing is stalling for time. Interviewing someone can be a very lengthy process, especially given how many interviewers have to be conducted in a short period of time. The less time that is being wasted with filler phrases, the happier an interviewer will be.

Past Job Experiences

Another common set of questions during an interview have to do with previous work experience. The first question that most interviewers ask after looking over the past jobs on a resume is why the interviewee is no longer with the previous job. For many, this is a very difficult question to answer. Interviewees must be very careful with what answers they give. Many interviewees want to deflect any possible blame from themselves, framing it in a way where it was either their boss or that the job was a waste of their talents. These are not answers an interviewer wants to hear.

Interviewers are very hesitant to hire someone who speaks poorly of his or her boss or past employees. In their eyes, these interviewees are not going to be team players, and their loyalty is in question. Interviewees that express frustration with limitations on their past jobs also risk sounding like they are above those positions, and may be as likely to leave the one for which they are currently interviewing.

Just like with their hobbies, interviewees should answer this question to the best of their abilities, but not go into too much detail. All they need to do is provide enough information to answer the question, without speaking ill of previous employers or employees.