Words to avoid at the interview

We all know we should avoid peppering our interview chat with conversation fillers, such as ‘like,’ ‘kinda,’ ‘umm,’ ‘you know’ and ‘I mean.’ We don’t talk about religion, sex or politics at any table (unless, of course, we’re interviewing for a related sector). And we definitely steer clear of swear words. Tick!


But did you know that there’s a whole raft of other criminal words hoping to pop out of our well-meaning mouths in the interview room? Stay on your guard and don’t let them out. Ever. According to Reader’s Digest, if they escape, they will seriously damage your application. Inc.com is of the same opinion.


We have combined the lists of common offenders published by both sources. Scan it, noting why they feature on the list, and promptly delete these words from your interview vocab. forever:


  1. ‘Whatever’ – far too casual and very annoying
  2. ‘Stuff,’ ‘things’ and ‘nice ‘- juvenile-sounding, vague and dull. Use specific words to communicate exactly what you mean instead
  3. ‘Honestly’- signals that everything you’ve said up to that point isn’t true
  4. ‘Basically’ – lends ambiguity to your answer. Is what follows accurate or are you blurring the truth?
  5. ‘Experience’ – to say you have experience in an area is too general to be useful. Be specific and detailed instead
  6. ‘Self-starter’ and ‘hard-working’ – surely it goes without saying that you are both of these?!
  7. ‘Addicted’- makes you sound immature and, if your interviewer knows anyone with substance-abuse problems, he/she may consider the casual use of this term offensive
  8. ‘No’ – well, just not in answer to the question, ‘So do you have any questions?’ Please see the above article for details (@Marta – for the blog version, please link directly to the relevant article). And, if you really must answer an interview question negatively, try to frame it in positivity or water down your ‘no’ with a diplomatic ‘it would depend on…’ or ‘possibly’
  9. ‘Hate’ – too strong and too negative
  10. ‘Dedicated’ and ‘passionate’ – these words are so over-used at job interviews that they’ve become meaningless and grating


In truth, it’s unlikely that one single word will eliminate you from the recruitment process. But if you overlay more than a few of them on an already shaky impression, your application may well be rejected as a result. Practising your interview chat and weeding out the above words is therefore a very worthwhile activity.


ABL, your trusted recruitment partner, wishes you the very best of luck with your job search! If you’d like any more advice on how to nail an interview, or source your dream job, please get in touch.