Interview Techniques: Watch Your Language

What you say will stick with your interviewer, so watch your language.


Do you call people ‘bro’, ‘dog’, or ‘dude’ in conversation? Do you use the word ‘like’ as a transition to fill in where other, better words should be? Do you have a habit of saying ‘I don’t know’ as you trail off a sentence? Do you feel like fist bumping? These and other behaviours are what works with your friends and people who know the excellence with which you’re made. With those you meet for the first time, you might come off as informal, coarse, indecisive, and too familiar. Age has a lot to do with the words we use. Younger candidates use different language signs than older candidates. You can always be yourself, just watch what you say, and you can grow a closer rapport with your interviewer and come off as the sophisticated baller you are. Here are some obvious word choices and saying and things you can avoid right off.

‘Bro’. Don’t call your interviewer ‘bro’ and you might as well not reference your ‘bros’ a ‘bromance’ or anything with ‘bro’ at all in it.

‘Dude’. Unless you left your car somewhere and you’re Ashton Kutcher, don’t play the dude card. It works in The Big Lebowski, and it probably works with your friends, but there are no ‘dudes’ in the interview room (unless, of course, you are The Dude. Then you’ll be forced to).

Like’. Like I went to the like job interview and they were like I think you have the experience, but, like, what’s with all the likes? Likes are good for things you like (‘I like flowers’), to compare one thing with another (‘They act like clowns’), or liking a post on social media. But, other than that, keep your likes, like, to yourself.

Swearing. This is usually something you should avoid, even if your interviewer throws the odd ‘f-bomb’. Even if others swear, they might not be as aware of it in themselves as they will be when it comes out of your mouth. Even mild swearing is wise to avoid.

‘Babe’, ‘bae’, ‘boo’. These are all nice things to say to someone you know well or love, but not so cool when you’re interviewing for a job. A lot of interviewers won’t know what you’re saying anyway (most people don’t know what ‘bae’ even means) so pet names for others should be left for those others. Never call your interviewer ‘boo’ unless you really mean it and they know it.

Shake hands, no fist bumps, no secret handshakes. It’s cool to do the exploding fist bump with friends, or have your hands fly away like a bird after a complicated handshake, but you should leave this for your friends when you get the job. Otherwise, shake hands and look your interviewer in the eyes.

Don’t use complex or complicated words you don’t really know the meanings of. I meet a lot of people who want to seem smart in interviews who use the wrong words for simple concepts. If you don’t know what a word means as your mind grasps for something smart to say, choose a simpler word instead. Simpler and direct responses or questions are always the best, so keep it concise and use the smaller words. They are most powerful anyway, and you won’t mistakenly say something that points out you don’t actually know what you’re saying.

These and other simple tips will at least get you through the interview and not rejected from the list right off. Professionalism, manners, watching what you say, and reading your interviewer are keys to greater interview success. It’s, like, really, like, important.

Do you have tips for interviewing? From the practical to the unusual, we’d love to hear what you think makes interviews successful or unsuccessful.

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