11 Words to Always Say in a Job Interview
You’ve got all the nonverbal stuff nailed down: a good haircut, the right clothes, a firm handshake. Now, here are the words to go along with them.
Always say: your interviewer’s name
It’s a cliche, but it’s true: Everyone loves the sound of their own name. Our infatuation starts when we’re young and our name is the word most frequently said around us. Scientists have found that babies recognize their names starting at four months of age. Even as adults, we might still subconsciously associate our monikers with that glorious time when we had no concerns and everything we did (whether it was sitting up or spitting up) was fussed over. Just don’t overdo using your interviewer’s name. Say it once when you enter, and again when you leave. Any more than that and you’ll sound like a telemarketer.
Always say: excited
I once knew someone who tried out for Jeopardy!. While he aced the trivia tests and displayed great buzzer reflexes, the producers ultimately nixed him. Why? They said he wasn’t excited enough. Similarly, on an interview, you need to show your enthusiasm. To reinforce the impression, you should also say “I’m so excited about this job” sometime during your conversation. Because if the position comes down to you and an equally qualified contender, your energy could tip the balance.
Always say: the company’s name
Your interviewer wants to feel that you’re interested in the overall company, not only in the job that you’ve applied for. So read up beforehand about how the company is doing and what its plans for growth are. Then mention in your interview how impressed you are by a specific strategy/initiative/campaign. It’s also in your best interests to find out this info since you should aim to join a thriving enterprise, not one that’s struggling.
Always say: experience
While your interviewer probably received your resume ahead of time, you can’t assume that she or he read it closely—or at all. (Tip: Always bring an extra copy just in case she or he has misplaced it.) So when asked whether you’ve had responsibility Y before, say “I have [X months or years] of experience in doing Y.” Be sure to use the word “experience”—you want to drive home how qualified and suited you are to the position.
Always say: colleague/mentor
No company wants to hire anyone who’s difficult to work with, but bullies or divas don’t walk in wearing “Here Comes Trouble” T-shirts. Instead, an interviewer has to look out for signs that a person may not play well with others. One red flag: A candidate who doesn’t acknowledge the efforts of her/his coworkers. So when speaking about your experiences, remember to credit your colleagues (and mentors) whenever possible. At the same time, if you’ve mentored junior staff as part of your previous jobs, bring this up, too. Companies are always eager to find people who can nurture talent.
Always say: persistent/curious
No matter the field or job, persistence and curiosity are important traits to possess. If your interviewer poses the “What are your greatest strengths?” question (or some variation), talk up your stick-to-it-iveness and love of learning. You should feel free to name others, but these are two essential attributes.
Always say: example
Back up every declarative statement—like “I’m curious” or “I’m a problem solver”— with specifics. So after you say, “I’m very persistent,” continue with “For example, when working on project X, I faced significant challenges in the form of Y and Z. It took me a week to change my approach, but I did and I ended up completing the project on time and even under budget.”
Always say: next
In a perfect world, your interviewer will spell out to you what the hiring process entails, but this isn’t a given. Quite often, you’ll need to ask “What’s the next step?” Not only will the answer help you set your expectations about what’s to come, but it will also show the interviewer that you’re serious about the job and you want to know what to do to get it.
Always say: thanks
Many candidates leave their interviews in haste, either because their inquisitor says something like “I’ve got to wrap this up” or “I have another meeting,” or because they’re so relieved to be done with the ordeal. But before you depart, always look your interviewer in the eye and thank her/him for taking the time to meet you.