Job interviews have always made me nervous. All the confidence I have in my qualifications and skills goes down the drain when the prospect of appearing for an interview comes into the picture. I’m sure I’m not alone in this – interviews can come with a lot of pressure to do well.
But there’s an easy way to prepare for it. Interview preparation can be a daunting task, but there’s an easy way to prepare for it and nail what to say in an interview.
In an interview, the words you use matter the most. Think of them as keywords in the midst of long sentences that an interviewer will linger on to.
These words will build an image of you. You may have a lot to say about your work, but how you express it will make or break the interviewer’s impression of you.
Here, is a cheat-sheet for your interview preparation, where I’ve talked about the words and phrases you shouldn’t be using in an interview. When you’re caught up with that, you can read this list of key interview words and phrases you should use to make a solid impression.
Here are a few powerful words to use in an interview that will help you ace that first impression in your job interview:
Ambitious is a word that implies potential.
Most ambitious people are keen on putting in that extra effort and work towards their goals, so you’re implying that you have many goals and you’re willing to fulfil them anyhow.
How to use it: You don’t have to use the word to describe yourself; you can even use it to describe work.
For instance: “It was an ambitious project that I was fortunate to be a part of, as it helped sharpen my skills.”
Saying that you view something as a priority gives the impression that you’re sure and willing to give importance to one thing over another when required. It also shows that you take your work seriously, which, of course, is a valuable trait.
How to use it: Priority can come in especially handy when you’re asked a tricky question.
For example, I was once asked whether money was more important to me than my passion. I responded with, “While ideally I’d like to work towards having a balance in both these things, my passion is a bigger priority at the moment.”
Another good word to use in an interview is ‘Methodical’. In a world where numbers and plans are valued, methodical can only be perceived positively.
The word implies that you have the ability to think analytically and that you’re not whimsical.
Whimsy may be important if you’re applying for a creative role, but having a methodical approach is definitely valued as it can produce more tangible results. The key is to rehearse it in your mock interview beforehand.
How to use it: Establish that your work required some form of methodical thinking and go on to describe the method.
For example, “Ours was a methodical approach to understanding why this content wasn’t working.” Or, “I consider myself to be a methodical thinker.”
4. “I can…”
This is textbook positive language! Starting with I can or I will is bound to leave a good impression on your hiring manager as it is optimistic and makes you look like a go-getter.
How to use it: This can be used as a negotiating factor in a conversation.
For example, if your response to “Are you willing to travel on the job?” is negative, you can say, “I’m looking for something that doesn’t involve a lot of travel at the moment, but I think we can work something out. How many days in a month would I be expected to travel?”
Build is a straightforward word that holds promise.
Build implies growth – something every organisation is looking to achieve.
Using it during your interview will leave a good impression, especially if you’ve applied for a leadership role.
How to use it: Use build to talk about something intangible associated with your work, and then delve into the tangible ways in which you achieved it. For example, “Building a positive brand presence is something I enjoy. The strategy team that worked under me doubled my organisation’s Instagram followers in three months.”
Resolve is an optimistic word that implies you’re a problem-solver.
How to use it: Resolve is best used as a substitute for problem-solving.
“I have the ability to resolve issues in a pragmatic and practical way.”
7. Words that reflect company values
Your hiring manager knows that you’ve done your homework on the company, but you can knock it out of the park by using the terms in the company’s mission or vision statement to describe yourself or explain your work. This is another powerful set of keywords to show that you have done extensive research on the company. Be sure not to overuse the words or linger on them too much, though.
How to use it: It’s important to remember the context in which the words have been used by the organisation in order to use them correctly.
For example, some of the core values of Kool Kanya are transparency, empathy, self-drive, and failing forward. If asked what my biggest learning was at my last job, I’d say, “I think the most important learning I had was how to be empathetic towards my clients. It’s only when I understand their needs that I can help them and also pitch the product better.”
When appearing for an interview, you want to strike a balance between confidence and humility, and show gratitude for being allowed to talk about your skills. That’s where opportunity will help.
Talking to your hiring manager in a language that insinuates what you’d do if given a chance can help make your case.
It also puts the ball in the organisation’s court regarding how best they’d want to use your skills.
How to use it: If a question is a problem posed to you, using opportunity can help. For example, if your interviewer says, “Do you think there’s a saturation in the market for products like ours?” You don’t have to lie and say no if the answer is obviously different. However, you can steer the conversation to something more optimistic. “It might be. But I see it as an opportunity to build on existing beliefs of the customers. If we focus on XYZ strategy. I’m positive we can make a change.”
Using example and actually giving examples are great ways to boost conversation and can serve as a great word to use in an interview. Alternatively, you can use the word to talk about an individual or an event that inspires/has inspired you.
Mentioning examples every now and then implies that you have a keen and observational mind, and that you’ll keep an eye out for what the competition is up to.
That can translate to ideas that will help better the organisation’s product/service.
How to use it: One way to use it is to actually give an example. “I think that method X is more effective if you want to increase brand engagement. May I give you an example of an experiment I conducted at work?” Another way to use it is to name your inspirations. “I think Google is a stellar example of how innovative ideas cannot be produced by one person alone; it takes a village.”
10. “I look forward to…”
Just like opportunity, “I look forward to…” gives the interview a positive spin.
You want to show that you’re confident enough to bag the role, yet humble enough to work for it.
That’s when using this phrase will come in handy.
How to use it: This is a straightforward phrase, and you could most likely end the interview with it.
Putting a positive and hopeful spin on your words can drastically change how your hiring manager sees you as a fit in the company. A pro tip: Try rehearsing some basic interview questions during your interview preparation using these powerful words and phrases so you have a better idea of where to use them and how. If you’re using a word too often, try to replace it with adjacent words that would do the trick.
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