Words To Avoid In An Interview

The job interview provides an opportunity for the employer to get to know you beyond what you have presented on the resume. They also want to see if you are able to reaffirm the information you have presented on your resume, so don’t be surprised if one of the questions the interviewer asks relates to how you would describe yourself or how others would describe you.

 Of course you want to present yourself in the best light possible, but there are some character trait words to avoid. Some characteristics are simply better off left for others, like your references to say about you because when you say it about yourself, there’s no backing to the statement.

See why you should avoid using the words below to describe yourself and alternative options to help get across the same point:

Sure, what employer wouldn’t like an employee who is friendly with everyone around them and gets along with others? The problem with taking it upon yourself to describe your character in this way is there’s not much you can say to come off as a credible source. How do you know others find you likeable? And what can you say to back up the claim without sounding weird? It’s hard to back up claims of other people. It’s easier to back up claims of your own, so a more appropriate word to use is team player. When you say you’re a team player it’s an opportunity to bring up specific evidence that you can back up based on actions you took.

Passionate is one of those words that you can’t really claim. It’s through action that one can tell when an individual is truly passionate. Avoid using the word to describe yourself and instead express you’re passionate about something through actions you’ve taken. For example, you can talk about volunteer work that relates to what you’re passionate about, heading a special committee at work that is outside of your regular job duties, etc.

This claim comes with conditions. It’s okay to say you’re an expert, but you have to specify an expert on what? Be careful not to over generalize. Try to focus on a key area that is important to the job and then point to relevant training, skills and experience where you can show proof that you utilized that expertise to bring about successful results. Don’t be shy to highlight your expertise in a specific area. It is information the employer should know so that you can further impress them.


Similar to likable, you want to avoid words that come off like a judgement by others. Stick to words that can help you be that. So instead of smart, the word fast learner may be more appropriate. When you describe yourself as a fast learner, you can present solid proof by how quickly you understood the mechanics of a certain program and put it to use to produce results on the job. It may also be an opportunity to discuss when you were placed in a situation you’re unfamiliar with, but you were able to smoothly make the transition to bring about results.

Take caution with using words that may be interpreted negatively. While you may mean you’re hardworking, describing yourself as dedicated has a more positive connotation than saying you’re obsessed with work. Think before using a word to see if it may be interpreted negatively in anyway. Refer to the thesaurus which will provide you plenty of alternative options.
Independent is one of those words that can also have a negative connotation. Does that mean you’re not a team player? That’s probably not where you want to go with it so this is another character trait word to avoid.

While this is simply a short list of words, the point should come across that you want to avoid any words that will require you to speak on behalf of others; anything that is too generalized; and words that present a chance for negative interpretation.


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