8 Interview Clichés to Avoid

The point of an interview is to show off to the hiring manager how wonderful and unique of a candidate you are.  So why would you waste precious time and words answering questions with clichés?  Unfortunately, when put in a nerve-racking situation, people often freeze up or stumble over their words, and these standard lines are the first things that come to mind.  Here are a few clichés to look out for, and some alternate ways to respond:

1. I’m a Team Player

The ultimate cliché, this one pops up in resumes, cover letters, and interviews.  But what does it really mean?  If you’re a “team player” and really want to get this point across, don’t say this line.  Explain what it is that makes you so great to work with.  Focus on your excellent ability to communicate or your willingness to both lead and follow directions.  Talk about a few instances where you have picked up the slack for someone else without having to be asked.

2. I’m the Perfect Fit

Ultimately this is up to the hiring manager.  Instead of wasting your breath telling them this and expecting them to believe you when they know nothing about you, barrage them with examples of why you’re a great fit.  Then they’ll come closer to making this conclusion on their own.

3. I’m a Hard Worker

Aren’t we all?  Again, saying this really means nothing to the interviewer until you provide concrete examples.  Tell them about all those times when you stayed late, turned work in before its due date, anticipated what needed to get done next, etc.  Make the interviewer really believe that you are a hard worker, because just saying so is not enough.

4. I’m Willing to Do Anything

Often this is the road many people have to take, especially when starting out in entry-level positions.  And while it’s great to have that sort of mentality, you don’t want to sound too desperate in a job interview.  And worse than sounding desperate, you don’t want to imply that the job itself is something you’re “willing to put up with” until you advance on to something better.  Mention specific parts of the job that excite you, and instead of focusing on your willingness to do anything, focus on your desire to do these specific things.

5. I’m a Fast Learner

When you say this, Hiring Managers hear, “I don’t know how to do this“. Saying this makes you sound like you are inexperienced, and that you may be underestimating the level of understanding it takes to do the job.

6. I’m Good with People

That’s exactly what the interviewer is trying to determine in the interview. It’s not just about determining if you have the skills and qualifications to do the job. The interviewer is trying to determine your general demeanor and personal skills, so let them see you in action, don’t simply state it.

7. I’m a very Loyal Person

People who say this are usually overcompensating for holding many jobs in the past, but not staying at any particular job for very long. Candidates who say this are typically concerned that the interviewer will think they’ll get bored and leave soon after taking the position. Instead of saying this, stress how you see this potential employer as a long term career path.

8. I really need this job

Some people think it’s a good idea to talk about their personal life in an interview, and how important it is for their family that they get this job. Even if this is true, do not say it. It only makes you look desperate. The less it seems you need the job, the more valuable you seem to the employer, because other employers want you too.

Clichés hurt you not just because they make you sound less credible, but also because they take away the chance to go into depth and provide specific examples of why you’d be a great hire.  Don’t do yourself an injustice by speaking vaguely with a hiring manager – the specifics will get you much farther.

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Comments

  1. Marcel M. Lissaint says

    As most time it takes. I am a little bit nervous about interview. Would you give me some advises?

  2. Your Hired says

    What is good for the goose may not always be good for the gander. Your list of non-appeals leaves a wide gap of translation. Maybe so in some idustries. However the tried and true of the brand uses these said cliches in their job postings. In order to feed your resumes to pass the software one must use their descriptive words which you say are obsolete and taboo. I truly think if you’d site examples of what side of industry your drawing your conclusions from it might hold more credibility to some of us seasoned HR Professionals who aren’t turned off at all by your so called cliches. If you haven’t recently looked at the percentages of what age group (55-65) is being hired you’d then see the retiscent of your remarks.
    The young and regrettable, I feel sorry for your generations. We had and have it all the baby boomers. Set your mark to get one of us in your office so you can stake your claim and hope some of our prescious commodity of common sense, strong work ethic, loyalty, good communicator, hands on as needed, and your whole list.

  3. Amilah says

    Thank you! This has just made me realize quite a lot of the don’ts that I do in a job interview.

  4. says

    I would like to know the xact and correct answers to this question during a job interview wherein you are dying to have the job.

    Question: HOW MUCH SALARY DO YOU EXPECT FROM US, if hired?

    Any response will be appreciated with regards to this concern. Thank you.

  5. says

    @alex m. bordonada
    As one HR executive told me once, you should never bring the amount yourself. So, one way to answer that is: “How much are you planning to pay?”

  6. S. F. X. Dow says

    I don’t believe you should answer this question immediately. Different companies have a variety of salary and compensation scenarios. I would respond with an opportunity to highlight the “fit” and how you meet the company’s needs.
    “I’m very interested in the opportunity and believe my experience in ___________ gives me a unique insight into ____________.
    If you believe, like I do, that I would be a good fit in this position, I’m confident we could come to an agreement regarding a compensation target.”
    If pushed for an amount, assure them that you are very interested in the job and, now that you know a bit more about the responsibilities, WHEN YOU RETURN FOR A FOLLOW UP (ha, ha) you will be prepared to discuss specifics.

  7. says

    I spent 30 years in Human Resources and Staffing Management before successfully transitioning over to a new career in Social Media Marketing, which I developed a professional interest in. I had to convince a whole new audience that I could succeed in my newly chosen field.

    I did – indeed – use some of these cliches in my interviews. Why? Because they are clear, concise and comprehensive. I did, however, back them up with real life examples. I think you mean to recommend DOING THIS, rather than to tell people to avoid using these phrases, alltogether.

    I don’t think we should frighten jobseekers over this. Few interviewers are measuring these kind of phrases and cliches. They are not punishing those, who speak them with rejection. They DO – however – want a candidate’s statements to be backed by proof. This is nothing new. It has always been the expectation. We live in a “show me” world.

    One other thing. There are countless similar cliches’ one may choose to use to describe themselves and their abilities. Others not mentioned in your post. Skilled interviewers will be in tune with which one candidates may choose to express. In what order are they given? And, which important and relevent ones are left out of the applicant’s dialog?

    The explanatory language that accompanies each statement also gives the interview major insights as to whether or not “the words and music flow together”. Do they come out sounding truthful or are they just spoken to appease and aussuage?

    All of THESE THINGS are of much more importance within the selection process.

  8. Angelina Vallejos says

    I had a phone interview recently and company asked me about my preferred hourly salary for the position. I was caught of guard I said a low salary that I regret saying, so how would I word it to let company know that I was wrong with the salary I gave them over phone. I was told by company to email to the contact person about the change before I go to a face to face interview.

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