When preparing for an interview, you research a company and carefully consider the questions you may be asked. Just as important as what you say is what you don’t say. One faux pas can eclipse many outstanding answers. In order to leave a positive impression, banish these words from your interview vocabulary:
• “Late” If you start your interview with “sorry I’m late,” it’s over before it begins. Being on-time for an interview is non-negotiable. Plan your transportation, parking, and navigation to the interview to ensure you have an adequate buffer to arrive in a respectful timeframe.
• “Idiot” If you are looking for a new role, it’s an indicator that you are dissatisfied with your current position. Do not allow that frustration to bubble over in an interview. You should never discuss your colleagues, supervisors, and institution in a bitter or derogatory way. Always be diplomatic in how you frame challenges and challenging individuals. Not only does it reflect poorly on you if you bad-mouth colleagues, you never know if the person you are maligning is a friend of your interviewer.
• “Um” Interviews can be stress-inducing, leading you to stumble over your words. Vocalized pauses make you appear inarticulate and unintelligent. You will inevitably need time to think and collect your thoughts during an interview. Do so silently. A thoughtful nod or quick smile can fill the silence and show you’re gathering your thoughts. Phrases such as “that’s a great question,” or “I appreciate you asking that” can buy you time while you formulate your answer.
One final note: while there are some words you should never say, there are also words you shouldn’t overuse. Key words can mistakenly be used ad nauseum. It is essential that you express appreciation during an interview. Yet, if you say “thank you” too much during an interview process, you can come across as groveling and obsequious. Be measured and thoughtful in your speech.