Banished Word List: Interview Edition
Lake Superior State University, located in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, recently came out with 2019’s infamous Banished Words List. Originating in 1976, this list is comprised of words that people from around the country nominate as misused, overused, or simply useless and should no longer be a part of our vernacular. Words like “foodie” and “selfie” have been included on the list in the past, while “collusion”, “wheelhouse”, “wrap my head around”, and “platform” top this year’s list.
As an interviewer, which words would you like to banish? Chances are that the following ten words and phrases would land somewhere on your list. Take notes job seekers, this list is for you! Make sure that you eradicate these words and phrases from your future interviews.
Although “ummm” isn’t necessarily a word or a phrase, the overuse of this filler earns it a spot on the top the list. The overuse of any filler will make you appear uncertain or unprepared despite your qualifications; as a result, avoid filling awkward silences with “ummm”, “like” or “so”, and try taking a sip of water or simply pausing to gather your thoughts instead.
If you are sitting in front of an interviewer, the assumption is that you are a hard worker. Stating that you are a hard-working individual is redundant, especially when there are other words or phrases that you could impress them with. Before your interview, think of descriptive words that reflect your strong work ethic and examples to accompany them.
- Perfect for this job
The simple truth is that no one person is going to be the perfect fit for a job. Instead of describing yourself as such, give the interviewer examples of when you have overcome obstacles. Even the best candidates will experience challenges when starting a new job, what your interviewer needs to know is how you will acclimate and succeed despite those obstacles.
- Team player
“Team player” is a catch phrase that is frequently used by candidates in an interview setting, making it less impactful. You can effectively describe yourself as a team player without using those exact words by elaborating about how you have successfully communicated, collaborated and worked with others in the past.
When asked what your weaknesses are, do not respond by telling the interviewer that you are a workaholic (the word “perfectionist” also falls into this category). Not only are you essentially giving yourself a backhanded compliment, but the interviewer will be more impressed with an honest response. Before you go into your interview, have a few skills in mind that you would like to work on. Make sure to plan accordingly so that those skills aren’t essential to the job that you are applying for.
- Quick Learner
Again, if hired for the position you are interviewing for, the assumption is that you will be able to learn any skills that you do not currently have relatively quickly.
Unless you are a robot, interviews make you nervous to some degree and your interviewer knows it. If you start experiencing sweaty palms or encounter a difficult question, take a deep breath and keep going. There is no reason to resort to saying, “I am so sorry, I am just really nervous”. They know.
- Curse Words
Although this should be fairly obvious, if you habitually use curse words in conversation this applies to you. Start cutting foul language out of your casual conversations now and make a concerted effort to keep those four-letter expletives (or any swear word for that matter) to yourself in professional settings. Remember that using just one bad word is a quick way to take yourself out of the running.
Using the word “fired” in an interview is like waving a big red flag. Using this word will ultimately lead to follow-up questions about your termination and details that are best kept to yourself and your former employer. If you are pressed, using terms such as “let go” are less damaging.
Even if you truly did hate your last job, despise past coworkers, or strongly dislike your current boss, avoid these words and keep the conversation positive. By using negative words like “hate”, you can unwittingly taint the interviewer’s view of you.
While many of the words and phrases on this list may seem like obvious choices, we tend to fall back into bad habits in stressful situations—like job interviews. Being aware of this list will help you to avoid using these words and phrases the next time you sit down with an interviewer.