5 Cliché Phrases to Stop Using in an Interview

5 Cliché Phrases to Stop Using in an Interview

Good ‘ol buzzwords and business clichés. We’re all guilty of using them, but when you begin to sound like one of my childhood pull-string dolls that’s programmed to recite a list of 10 phrases, it becomes like nails on a chalkboard. While there are times when business jargon is warranted and makes sense, your job interview is not the place for it.

Abusing clichés undermines your credibility as a job seeker, causes recruiters and hiring managers to internally roll their eyes, and communicates an inability to exercise creative thinking.

Your job interview may only consume a short chunk of time, but its outcome can have a huge impact on the future of your career. In order to refrain from alienating a potential employer, you must use those 60 minutes of your life wisely. Here are 5 cliché phrases you should put to rest before your next interview.


“I don’t have any weaknesses”

Everyone has weaknesses. Potential employers want to see that you are capable of self-reflection and humility. Similar to discussing a time in your career where you experienced failure, speaking about a weakness shows authenticity and is an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to professional development by highlighting what you’re doing to overcome it. Tell a concise story that shows originality versus falling back on an age-old cliché like, “I’m a perfectionist.”


“I’m a Hard Worker”

Yawn. Let’s be real: no one is going to show up for an interview and brag about their lack of dedication to their work. Individuals who genuinely work hard, don’t feel the need to print themselves an award and hand it out to anyone who’ll listen. Instead, they’re focused on discussing the results of their work and what they’ve achieved as a result of their efforts in the workplace.

You have to give potential employers something concrete and measurable – i.e. you implemented a new marketing program (be specific) that resulted in a 17% increase in sales leads. Rather than simply stating that you work your butt off, you are supplying a hiring manager with evidence of your skills through your accomplishments.


“I’m a Team Player”

Many job seekers are quick to whip out the ‘team player’ statement because they believe it’s what employers want to hear. It’s true that a bulk of hiring managers are looking for candidates that fit into the team player category; however, they want examples that can back this claim and showcase your skills in action.

Communicate why your past experiences will be of value to their company and how exactly you approach working collaboratively with others.  Everyone is different. Some workers excel at moving processes along, while others are typically the creative voice of the group. Be specific about your personality and how you tend to operate when working within a team.


“I’m a Leader”

As with teamwork, being a leader is multi-faceted and can be interpreted differently from person to person. Self-proclaimed leadership skills don’t hold any weight if the statement isn’t backed by specific examples. If you’re in a management position and you can’t articulate how you lead or why your leadership style is effective, potential employers will be quick to dismiss you as a viable candidate.  

Do your research. Understand what leadership means to you and how that aligns with the company’s core values. If you’re specifically asked a question surrounding leadership, be sure to first define leadership in your own words. 


“I’m Perfect for This Role”  

Making this statement is a huge assumption. While on paper, you might match up with all the qualifications outlined in the company job description, there are still several factors to consider. Are you truly a fit culturally? Will your work style and personality be compatible with the team you’ll be working on? How well will you handle the day-to-day workload? These are just some of the many questions that you won’t have the answer to at the time of the interview.

Instead, communicate your ambitions and talk about how you plan to bring new ideas to the role. Hiring managers want to get a feel for how you see yourself growing in the role and how you plan on contributing to the company’s growth. Always highlight your strengths, backing your claims with specific examples, and connect your experience with the needs and challenges of the role.


Keep Them Engaged 

Throughout your interview, it’s important to keep the hiring manager engaged. Bring energy, confidence, and enthusiasm into the room with you and make sure to communicate your value in a way that’ll leave them wanting more. The best way to ensure you nail your interview is to do your homework and practice beforehand with a friend.