3 words that could kill your job interview

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Land the Gig S1:E1 | Interview Etiquette

Job interviews are terrifying for most people. So much is at stake, and a few wrong words could kill your chances of getting that coveted job offer. But how are you supposed to know which words to avoid?

In my experience, there are three in particular that interviewers don't want to hear. These three words create the wrong impression and, if used frequently, can indeed harm your ability to demonstrate your qualifications in a compelling way. Read on to find out what those words are, why they're so dangerous and what you should say instead.

[See: The 8 Stages of a Winning Job Search.]

1. Always. The word "always" is a problem when used in statements like this:

"I always go over and beyond at work!"

"I always get along well with my teammates."

These kinds of declarations will likely trigger an inward eye roll on the part of your interviewer. Why? Well, think about it. Do people ever really do anything "always"? No. It's totally unrealistic. When your interviewer hears the word "always," he or she immediately assumes you're making a broad, exaggerated generalization – and you probably are.

Instead of saying you always do something, offer quantifiable measurements (if available) that demonstrate how you've consistently done this particular thing in the past. For example, "I passed 100 percent of my audits in the past five years," is far more compelling than "I always pass my audits."

Even when measurements aren't available, still share examples and maybe include some positive feedback you've received from others around whatever you're discussing.

Also see 10 things you should always say in a job interview:

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[See: The 8 Best Questions to Ask a Job Interviewer.]

2. Never. The word "never" is a problem when used in statements like this:

"I never complain about work."

"I never miss a deadline!"

Everything about the word "always" applies here as well. To claim you "never" do something is quite a leap for most people. Again, it sounds like an exaggeration because it probably is.

If you're going to claim you never do something, it's helpful to explain how you've managed to avoid it in the past. If you never complain, for example, focus on how you stayed positive even during stressful times. If you never miss a deadline, talk about how you've managed deadlines successfully in the past. Give details; don't expect someone to take your word for it.

3. Would. The word "would" is a problem when used in statements like this:

"I would definitely be able to meet that goal."

"I would be great at this job."

This word is a tricky one. It's hypothetical by nature. You're saying what you would do in the future, not what you have done in the past. When you use it, you're asking the person listening to trust you. And unfortunately, interviewers have no reason to do that. They aren't swayed by promises; they're swayed by results – real things you can point to in the past that prove how you're likely to behave in the future.

[See: The 10 Most Common Interview Questions.]

The same goes for words like "could" and even "will." When you use them, always follow them up with proof from the past that you've successfully done what you are claiming. This is true even if the interviewer is asking you speculate, for example, on how you would handle something. Do so if you must, but always follow it up with evidence from the past.

Perhaps you've noticed a theme here. The easiest and fastest way to kill your interview is to use language that is vague, imprecise or too future-focused. It's not that you can't say these words ever; you just don't want to use them without also diving deeper into specifics.

To avoid running into problems, share details about real experiences and things you've achieved at work in the past. Don't make sweeping generalizations or offer platitudes when you could share tangible proof of your abilities.

Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report

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