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Words Matter!

You’ve applied for a job and landed an interview - great! You’ve also researched the company’s background and gone through your checklist for interview prep. There is a fair amount of guidance on what to say in interviews, but not as much on what to avoid saying.  Some of this may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how often common sense is not so common.  We’ll also look at some other interview do’s and don’ts.

“I hate”
Whatever follows the words “I hate”, whether that’s an aspect of your job, a policy, or your last boss, it’s unprofessional and evocates a negative connotation. Along the same lines, try and avoid words with a clearly negative connotation that may convey a confrontational or inflexible perception of you. This would be words like “won’t” or “don’t”.

Filler Words
This is something many people are so accustomed to using that they do not even realize they’re doing it and certainly not with the frequency with which they do it. These fillers include words like ‘um’, ‘like’ or ‘great question’. Instead of using these words, take a moment in silence to pause if you need to gather your thoughts before answering. You will come across as more confident and likely have a better answer then if you use a filler word before answering the question. This takes a lot of practice if you are someone who has grown accustomed to relying on fillers to carry your conversation so record yourself and work hard to slow down your speech pattern so that the periodic pauses simply come off as you putting thoughtful consideration into your answers.

Curse Words
Even if the company culture is one where such words are acceptable, and even if your interviewer drops a curse word into conversation, you will still want to remain completely professional and not curse during the interview.

“I will do anything to get this job”
Saying “I will do anything to get this job” or “I’ll do anything you ask” comes across as desperate. While you might really want that job, don’t grovel or beg for it. Show them that you are the best candidate for the role and that you working with them would be the perfect partnership for them and for you.

Anything Political
Unless you are applying for a job in politics, it’s best to avoid anything political including words like Democrat, Republican, Conservative, or Liberal. You want to stay away from any controversial topics.

“You Guys”
Using the words “you guys” or “ya’ll”, as we do in casual conversation in the South, during an interview comes across as too informal. It’s better to use words like “your company” or “your team”.

Additional Interview Do’s and Don’ts


  • Dress appropriately and err on the side of being conservative
  • Arrive 10 minutes early
  • Have a firm handshake, maintain good eye contact, and friendly expression
  • Be polite to everyone you encounter at the company


  • Speak negatively about your previous employer or co-workers
  • Leave your phone on during the interview
  • Fidget or slouch
  • Act disinterested in the job or employer

We hope this is a helpful reference for when you go into your next interview. Be mindful of the words you speak and present yourself in as professional manner as possible.