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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  • Donna C
    Donna C
    It seems to me that the above words that shouldn't be used in a interview are just common sense.  To me hearing those 6 words would make me think that someone is very immature and lacks appropiate language skills.
  • Joan L
    Joan L
    I "totally" agree with those "freaking" words that should not be used while at an interview.  I think that it was "great" to be aware of the words that should be eliminated at an interview.  Although it is "amazing" that people do tend to use those words.  Again I found this article to be totally awesome - "whatever"
  • Thomas W
    Thomas W
    Dumb, really dumb. You should title this, "Words Not To Use on Your First Interview Out Of Trade School,"
  • Robert B
    Robert B
    That info was Totally awesome in an amazingly awesome  way and was great in every way thanks!!!!
  • LAVDIJE G
    LAVDIJE G
    These are very useful tips.Thank you!
  • Deeanne M
    Deeanne M
    It's actually pathetic that an article like this has to exist. Isn't it common sense NOT to use these words?
  • charlene c
    charlene c
    It is refreshing that Beyond has said what needed to be said.Before interviews, I remind myself not to use some of the above words. (i.e.: amazing and great).  Also, the word: whatever - to me has always been a rude word because it suggests that what the other person is saying is not important.
  • listra l
    listra l
    what you said is true even though i've never used those words in an interview still did get the job
  • Jl s
    Jl s
    I think HR people really do suck
  • Marshon I
    Marshon I
    This training is very well needed.  With all the slang today, some of the people have gotten away from correct and proper English.  So we want to be informative and educate at all times, cause some people dont receive proper training.
  • Ahmed i
    Ahmed i
    that is great ,i got from you some new things i did not know before ,may that helping me in any meeting coming ,thank you
  • Thomas A
    Thomas A
    You mean to tell me people actually use those words in an interview?
  • dolly b
    dolly b
    I agree with five of the words, However I dont see any thing wrong with using the word GREAT. It expresses the way I felt about my last job. I loved my everything about my job
  • Robin M
    Robin M
    Interesting, iv'e never thought about. This. Great article!
  • Kathy B
    Kathy B
    The comments offered are helpful, but outdated.  I understood that we don't use these words anymore, however, there should be a more current description that applies to the current interviewing helpful hints and that are current with the new social networking and classic interview sites.
  • Marie M
    Marie M
    vERY EDUCATIONAL
  • Fredrick m
    Fredrick m
    thanks for that information will keep it in mind please send more info like this in the future
  • Miguel F
    Miguel F
    These words are what a late 20 early to mid 30 age person would be inclined to use.  A person 40-50 age group would not use them.  
  • Kate H
    Kate H
    Really????  You have to tell people to avoid these words??
  • Damion G
    Damion G
    This is so true. Folks used anything that comes to mind without thinking first of what they are really saying.
  • John R
    John R
    Very interesting but true. Do you have the opposite in what a bad employer would mean trouble ...like No Medical, Dental or insurance...what if you have children and need these Benefits?! No overtime or no fuel compensation if your job requires driving your own car for seeing clients like Home-care?
  • Bruna E
    Bruna E
    the best thing is always to tell the truth and for that you do not need fancy words just say I liked my work I put myself to do the best  and I enjoyed it so as you say simple words can take you a long way as long as it is the truth  and thank you I did learn a lot and makes me think it is better to use words that you use every day thank you bye
  • kevin s
    kevin s
    Useful information
  • Kat T
    Kat T
    VERY EDUCATIONAL!
  • 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.

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