Stop saying these things in your interview

Here’s a look at which words to avoid – and what you should say instead.

Beware of using words that downplay your abilities

These words can send the message that you’re not comfortable talking about your achievements:

  • We
    If you had to describe how you overcame a problem at work, do you tend to use “we” instead of “I”? Many of us naturally do that – but the interviewer is only interested in your positive impact.
  • Just
    Often we use “just” to downplay our responsibilities and achievements. While it’s important to be honest about your skills in an interview, using “just” will highlight a skill you’re lacking or not confident in. Practice talking about your skills and achievements without using “just”.
  • Only
    For example: “I only worked there for one year”. If you feel you have limited experience or skills, instead be upfront about the experience that you do have and how you plan to gain further exposure or to upskill in a certain area.
  • Obviously
    Your interviewer has probably never met you before, so don’t assume that anything is obvious. “Using the word ‘obviously’ can potentially irritate people as it suggests that the other person should understand something when they may not.


Be wary of using terms that you cannot back up.

These are the words or phrases that will need good examples to back them up:

  • Resilient/motivated by a challenge
    What are some examples of challenges that you have overcome in the past?
    How did you prepare? Did you need to develop new skills? Who did you ask for help? How did you stay positive and focused on the end goal?

It’s important to underline any claims that you’re resilient so that it’s meaningful in an interview setting.

  • Detail-oriented
    If you describe yourself as detail-oriented then make sure you have no typos on your CV. Also, make sure to have some specific examples of when you used your high attention to detail – preferably if you saved the company time and/or money.
  • Team player
    Almost everyone claims to be a team player, but it’s important to support that claim in an interview – by describing examples of when you have made a positive contribution to a team.

 For example, when did you share information with the team, ask for feedback, or support and motivate  colleagues? How did you do it, and what was the outcome?


What you should say in your interview

Aim to use powerful and positive language in your interview. Such as:

  • “I identified”
  • “I developed”
  • “I proposed”
  • “I implemented”

These phrases are perfect for when you need to give examples of skills you used to overcome problems, such as: “Tell me about a time when you helped a colleague?” or “Describe a situation when you resolved a conflict?”.


For more information and assistance for interview prep, see:


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