Most people, during an interview, are not going to use profanity or be too politically incorrect, but there are some common words that you should also avoid.
1. Irregardless. Regardless of what you might have been led to believe, irregardless is not a word at all. Some people might not be bothered by its usage, but if your interviewer is a stickler for grammar, you could be in trouble. Other no-no’s: Hopefully and literally. Even though these are actual words, they are often used incorrectly and might be a big turnoff.
2. People Person. Well, a phrase, really, but definitely cringe-worthy. The problem with this is that it has been over-stated so many times that it has become a cliche and might actually work against you. Besides, it is unverifiable and might be taken to mean that you have no real skills or accomplishments to discuss. If interpersonal skills are your strong suit, you could say that you are very effective working with upset customers, or that you are good with conflict mediation or organizing teams.
3. Fired. Never say that you were fired. Never. You can say you were laid off, that your position was eliminated in a work force redution, or that your former job just wasn’t a good fit. You can avoid the word without lying about your situation, and the interviewer can make their own interpretation.
4. Crisis. If you use the word crisis to describe a former workplace challenge that you alleviated, it might make you sound like someone who blows things out of proportion or who might panic those around you in the face of ordinary workplace situations that need to be diffused. You will seem more poised and reliable by using terms such as challenge or problem to illustrate your ability to “put out fires” (use at your own discretion).
5. Do not criticize a former employer. Expressing negative words about a past employer is a huge no-no. The interviewer will probably assume that you would do the same to them if you leave their company. Instead, you can explain that you had a difference of opinion with your former employer in work philosophies or styles. If you are asked about it, keep it short and objective.
My two favorite job tips are:
1. Always ask a question at the end of the interview. If the interviewer asks if you have a question, don’t say “No.” Asking a question lets them know you are interested in their company and have been paying attention. It’s okay to think of a question before the interview just so you have one if you can’t think on your feet.
2. Ask for the job. I know, it seems obvious that if you are at the interview you want the job. But, every Human Resources person I have asked about this has said that, yes, they will hire the person who indicates they really want the job over a similarly qualified candidate who does not. You can simply say, “I really want this job.” How will they know if you don’t tell them?