What is a good word to use in an interview?

When preparing for a job interview, it’s important to think about the words and phrases you want to use to make the best impression on the interviewer. Using the right language can demonstrate your qualifications, confidence, and professionalism. Here are some strategies for choosing effective words for a job interview.

Use Industry Jargon and Technical Terms Sparingly

It’s a good idea to use industry jargon and technical terms relevant to the specific job you’re applying for. This shows the interviewer that you know the lingo and are familiar with the field. However, don’t overdo it. Using too many technical buzzwords and acronyms can make you sound like you’re trying too hard to prove yourself. The key is to use them in a way that flows naturally and makes sense in context.

Research the Company’s Preferred Terminology

If possible, research the kinds of language and key terms used by the company you’re interviewing with. This shows you’ve done your homework and understand their culture and approach. Mirroring the company’s preferred terminology in an interview can create rapport and show alignment with their mission and values.

Explain Acronyms and Technical Terms

When you do need to use a technical term or acronym, briefly explain what it means so the interviewer understands its relevance. You don’t want them to feel lost in jargon. For example, “We used an agile methodology (meaning we worked in rapid iterations) for more flexible product development.”

Use Active Language

In general, you want to use active, straightforward language in an interview rather than passive, convoluted phrasing. Active voice displays confidence and clarity. For example, “I increased sales by 30% over 2 years” sounds more convincing than “Sales were increased 30% over 2 years by me.” Saying “We implemented a new system” is better than “A new system was implemented by us.” Active language also helps you avoid overusing filler words like “um,” “uh,” and “like.”

Talk About Actions You Took

When describing your experience and accomplishments, focus on the actions you took rather than just outcomes: “I built a marketing campaign from scratch that generated 500 new leads in one month.” Using active verbs like “built,” “created,” “launched,” and “managed” puts you in the driver’s seat.

Own Your Statements

Avoid passive constructions that distance you from your work, like “The project was completed on time.” Instead say, “I completed the project on time.” Use personal pronouns like “I” and “we” rather than vague phrases like “the team” when discussing your contributions.

Use Clear, Concise Language

In an interview setting, you want to be articulate but also direct and succinct. Avoid rambling on or using unnecessary filler words. Prepare clear soundbite-like answers to common interview questions. Get comfortable stating your background, skills, and qualifications concisely and confidently.

Prepare Short Soundbites

Practice summarizing your qualifications and background in just a few sentences. For example, “I have 3 years experience in social media marketing. I single-handedly built our company’s Twitter following from 2,000 to 35,000 users in one year.” Crisp soundbites like this quickly convey your value.

Listen Carefully Before Responding

Actively listen to each interview question before responding. Ask for clarification if needed. Don’t jump in with long, wandering replies. Take a moment to thoughtfully compose your response. The most articulate candidates are concise and get right to the point.

Use Descriptive Adjectives and Adverbs

Peppering your interview answers with precise adjectives and adverbs demonstrates command of language and draws a more vivid picture for the interviewer. For example, instead of simply saying you increased sales, say you “dramatically increased” or “significantly increased” sales. Rather than just managed a project, say you “diligently” or “efficiently” managed it.

Avoid Overusing “Very” and “Really”

“Very” and “really” are generic filler words. Swap them out for something more descriptive like “highly,” “extremely,” or “tremendously.” For example, “I’m very detail-oriented” sounds bland, while “I’m meticulously detail-oriented” packs more of a punch. Strong adjectives prove you aren’t just repeating the same tired clichés as every other candidate.

Vary Your Vocabulary

Don’t overuse the same few adjectives and adverbs. Actively build your vocabulary so you can pull from a rich word bank in interviews. There are so many more engaging options than just “very” or “really good/bad/big/small.” Break out a thesaurus and find them!

Use Relatable Examples and Anecdotes

Illustrating your background and skills with specific examples and anecdotes makes you memorable and shows you translate words into actions. These mini-stories bring your accomplishments to life. Just make sure they highlight successes relevant to the target job.

Prepare STAR Stories

STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, and Result—the building blocks of an engaging anecdote. Set up the situation, explain the task or challenge at hand, describe the actions you took, and summarize the positive results. For example, “When our sales were stagnant (Situation), I developed a new outreach strategy (Task) and contacted 500 prospective clients by email (Action), which generated $60,000 in new business (Result).”

Keep Stories Concise

The STAR technique helps keep anecdotes direct and to the point. Don’t ramble on or get lost in the weeds of a long, detailed story. Share just enough vivid details to illustrate your skills in action and the value you brought. If the full story is really long, summarize the key details.

Use Inclusive Language

Using inclusive language shows you champion diversity and can collaborate effectively with all kinds of people. Gender-neutral terms like “staff” instead of “employees,” “sales staff” instead of “salesmen,” and “businessperson” instead of “businessman” display cultural awareness.

Avoid Idioms and Cultural References

Idiomatic phrases and cultural references could inadvertently alienate or confuse someone from a different background. For example, sports analogies may not resonate with everyone. Steer clear of idioms, references, or slang that relies on the interviewer relating to your specific cultural experience.

Use Their Name and Preferred Pronouns

If you aren’t sure how to refer to someone, politely ask for their preferred name and pronouns. Using “they/them” pronouns is a safe default if you are unsure or don’t want to presume someone’s gender. Making assumptions can quickly make people feel excluded and rub them the wrong way.

Avoid Fillers Like “Um” and “Ah”

“Um,” “uh,” “ah,” and other fillers hurt your eloquence and professional image. They suggest you lack confidence or preparation. It takes diligence to break this common habit, but the payoff is coming across as a polished, articulate candidate.

Take a Brief Pause

When you feel a filler word coming on, take a subtle pause instead to gather your thoughts. Breathe and refocus before continuing your response. With practice, these small pauses will feel more natural than “umming” and “ahing” while you formulate what to say next.

Record Yourself

Practice answering common interview questions out loud and record yourself. Play back the recording and take note every time you use a filler. Becoming aware of this habit is the first step to replacing it with more purposeful pauses.

Mirror the Interviewer’s Language

Pay close attention to the vocabulary, style, and tone used by the interviewer. Subtly mirroring their language builds an unconscious rapport and trust. Of course, stay true to your natural voice, but if they use certain phrases, you can organically work those in as well.

Listen for Key Words and Phrases

Pick up on the specific terms, idioms, and rhetorical styles used by the interviewer. For example, if they ask about your “skillset,” refer back to your “skillset” rather than saying “skills.” If they ask if you’re a “team player,” use “team player” in your response. This sync creates chemistry.

Match Their Energy Level

Take cues from the interviewer’s body language, tone, and pace. If they speak slowly and calmly, match that relaxed tempo. If they sound excited about a project, energetically mirror that enthusiasm. Appropriately adapting your energy level helps you seamlessly connect.

Sound Confident Without Arrogance

You want to sound confident and self-assured without seeming arrogant or self-important. Tout your qualifications without overhyping your skills or using domineering language. It’s about striking the right balance between confidence and humility.

Use Assertive Language

Phrase statements assertively without diminishing your contributions or qualifications. For example, “I successfully led project X” sounds confident, while “I helped out with project X” downplays your role. Share accomplishments using active, decisive language that conveys self-confidence.

Avoid Overconfident Claims

Don’t make exaggerated claims like saying you’re the “best” or “most experienced” candidate. These types of over-the-top statements sound arrogant rather than assured. Simply state your credentials and capabilities and let them speak for themselves.

Watch Your Tone and Volume

What you say matters, but so does how you say it. Pay attention to your tone of voice and volume level on an interview. Nerves can sometimes increase pitch or volume unintentionally. With awareness, you can course correct.

Speak Slowly

When nervous, people tend to talk rapidly, tripping over words. Force yourself to slow down your speech. Take your time enunciating each word. This projects calm confidence. If you need to, discreetly take some deep breaths before responding.

Vary Tone and Inflection

Monotone droning sounds robotic rather than human. But don’t overcompensate and sound artificially perky either. Vary your tone naturally to match the content. For example, sound concerned when discussing a challenge, and convey optimism when describing accomplishments.

Avoid Jargon, Slang and Curse Words

Interviews call for formal, professional language. Avoid using jargon, slang, curse words, or cultural references that may not be considered appropriate by the interviewer. Even mild terms like “shoot” or “crap” are too casual for the context.

Listen to Yourself

If you use certain casual phrases or words in your normal speech, make a conscious effort to avoid them in an interview by listening closely to yourself as you respond. Pausing before answering gives you time to catch yourself before an inappropriate term slips out.

Ask for Clarification if Needed

If the interviewer uses a term or refers to something you are unfamiliar with, don’t pretend. It’s perfectly acceptable to politely ask for clarification. Confirming you understand the specifics projects professionalism.


Preparing appropriate vocabulary and phrasing ahead of time will help ensure you have the right words for a successful interview. Remember to research industry terminology, use active voice that highlights your capabilities, provide engaging examples that showcase your skills in action, and watch tone and style. With practice and preparation, you can eloquently sell yourself!

Type of Word Examples Tips
Industry Jargon/Technical Terms Agile, blockchain, Java Use judiciously and explain if needed
Active Verbs Developed, pioneered, led Use to describe your actions
Descriptive Adjectives/Adverbs Diligently, tremendously, meticulous Replace generic terms like “very”
Inclusive Language Staff, sales team, they/them Avoid assumptions or exclusion

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