10 Toxic Words You Must Not Say in a Job Interview

Even though these seem like just ordinary words, they could be major red flags for an interviewer or recruiter.

By Bernard Marr • May 5, 2015 Originally published Feb 2, 2015

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

LinkedIn Influencer, Bernard Marr, published this post originally on LinkedIn.

There's plenty advice out there to rehearse what you're going to say in a job interview: research questions the interviewer might ask, practice your answers, come up with salient questions of your own…

But what about rehearsing what you're not going to say?

I put together a list below of some words you'll want to try to avoid at your next job interview, because even though they seem like just ordinary words, they could be major red flags for an interviewer or recruiter.

1. No.

First of all, if asked even a simple question, you don't want to give a single word answer (yes or no). But when the answer is no, definitely don't leave it there! For example, if asked if you know a particular computer program, and you don't, you could say, "I haven't yet had a chance to learn it but would be interested to do so," rather than simply saying "No."

2. Er… Um…

That old saying, "If you don't have anything to say, don't say anything at all," applies here a big. Rather than hemming and hawing while you try to think up an answer, just be silent and think. Saying er or um too much could make you seem unprepared or as though you're not paying attention.

Related: One Simple Trick To Have Successful Conversations (LinkedIn)

3. Whatever, OMG, bae… groovy?

Lose the slang when talking to an interviewer. You want to come across as polished and professional, and you don't want them to have to dig out their urban dictionary to understand you.

4. Sure, cool, kinda…

These kinds of words are just too casual, even in a casual workplace. You should be presenting the best version of yourself, not the sloppy, casual version.

5. We

This one seems innocuous at first, but if you use it a lot when discussing job duties and accomplishments, the interviewer might start to wonder if it was you or your team that was responsible. Try to use "I" as much as possible.

6. Dedicated, motivated, team player...

Lose the resume speech and jargon. Besides the fact that these words are incredibly overused in interview situations, they're also better demonstrated than just stated. If you want to convey your dedication or motivation, share an example from your past work experience; examples will go much further to making your claims believable.

7. Leverage, synergy, ideation…

I'd avoid using too much business jargon. The chances that you'll come off sounding like an idiot are just too high. Too much business buzzwords or jargon tends to make people sound pretentious, or worse, downright stupid.

Related: Big Data For Small Business - Why It Matters! (LinkedIn)

8. 'Hit the ground running,' 'Circle back…'

These kinds of cliches have little to no meaning, they're just verbal fluff, and they don't add anything to what you're saying. So leave them out.

9. Hate

I can't think of a single instance when saying you "hate" something in a job interview is appropriate, but it's exceptionally inappropriate to say anything about hating your former job, co-workers, boss, etc.

10. Perfectionist

It's become almost a cliche in and of itself to answer a question like, "What's your biggest flaw?" with a positive flaw like, "I'm a perfectionist." Any good interviewer will see right through that, so just don't do it.

Do you agree or disagree with my list? Any other words you'd add? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Bernard Marr

Author, Keynote Speaker and Consultant in Strategy, Performance Management, Analytics and Big Data

Bernard Marr is a best-selling author, keynote speaker and consultant in strategy, performance management, analytics, key performance indicators (KPIs) and big data.

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