Six Empty Words To Avoid In An Interview

Posted by

In this tight job market, getting an interview is a chance to let an employer know you’re the best person for the job. It’s all about communication skills at this point—how well you express yourself, word choices and your ability to persuade an employer to give you the job. 

One of the best tactics is to be specific when you describe your work experience, skills and accomplishments. An interview isn’t a friendly chat with your Facebook friends or texting on your status. There are some words that are so overworked in everyday conversation that they just don’t mean anything anymore and can be annoying to an interviewer who wants to get some real information. Here are six overworked, tired words to take out of your interview vocabulary.

  1. Amazing. Was your last job really amazing? Is your work experience amazing? How about your communications skills? What does amazing mean? Stupifying? Unreal beyond belief? If your last job was so “amazing,” why are you looking for another job? Is this one more “amazing?” Used once in the right context, the word isn’t bad. It can be maddening when used 25 times over the course of an hour interview to describe just about everything. After the first one, it doesn’t really have much effect except being annoying.
  2. Awesome. This word really doesn’t say much at all. It’s filler, overused and just sort of thrown out there. The Grand Canyon is awesome. A shuttle launch could be described as awesome. The Taj Mahal is definitely awesome. But few of us can describe ourselves or our abilities as awesome. Your skills may be exceptional or superior, but awesome? And pairing it with "Dude" doesn't make it better.
  3. Whatever. You may be tempted to use this word when answering a “…tell me about a time when…” questions. Used alone as a comment on a situation or as a response to someone comes across as lazy and rude. It conjures up the old “valley girl” stereotype of someone who is clueless and a little arrogant. Like the first two words, it really doesn’t convey any specific meaning. 
  4. Totally. The total of what? If you mean you agree, say that. It is used as an affirmation. Interviewer: “That project seems like it was very rewarding. You: "Totally!”  Or, intensity. You: “I was totally amazed at the awesome opportunity!” (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.) You can see what happens when you string them all together. A lot of nothing!
  5. Great. This word is so overused and has lost its punch. It’s supposed to show a high level of something, but the word great is really lukewarm. With the wrong voice tone, it can be a negative. On a scale of one to 10, great is around five or six. Be specific and find some other descriptive adjectives that show proper intensity and relation to the situation.
  6. Freaking or Fricking. We all know what you really want to say, and using these substitutes don’t lessen the effect of the word they represent. They are still rude, inappropriate, borderline vulgar and don’t have a place in an interview. 

If your vocabulary is limited, buy a thesaurus or find an online version. Find specific words to describe your work experience, values, education and accomplishments without using any of the above words. Impress the interviewer with your command of the English language and yourself as someone who will be a professional and respected company representative.

Image by stockimages at


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  • Michael S.
    Michael S.

    I've sat among Residents and Physicians and heard the word "like" used in their speech so much I thought I'd throw up. I guess it's a cultural thing but Please stop!!

  • Lillian S.
    Lillian S.

    The above word list is beyond overused. A thesaurus is needed as stated above. Also you can visit for online wording resources.

  • Justin Standley
    Justin Standley
    Complete waste of typing. Anyone with half a mind &/or not stuck in the 80s would never be caught using 99% of this verbiage. Especially during a crux interview. Author needs to step up his/her game. This is schlock typing.
  • James C
    James C
    I think  that it isn't a good idea to use some of the words.
  • Edward K
    Edward K
    Thanks, this is very informative and may help with some of the mistakes we make by using such words.
  •  Rubye L
    Rubye L
    Excellent article and easy to read.
  • gina b
    gina b
    I agree completely agree with your assessment of those six over and often inappropriately used words.  I once dated a guy who's response to nearly every thought we discussed was "you know, whatever."  It drove my crazy and away from him because I felt it gave me no real insight to his real thoughts on matters, if he actually had any.
  • Mark C
    Mark C
    There is a phrase to avoid also "you know what I mean" very empty comment I'm sure the interviewer does not know. So avoid this also.
  • Dwight D
    Dwight D
    I think you are correct on all points.
  • Antoine M
    Antoine M
    Anyone born before the present generation would notuse those words anyway.parents please teach your Children
  • Micheal D
    Micheal D
    Thank you
  • Ivey G
    Ivey G
    Awesome article.
  • David P
    David P
    I think there exists a larger and longer list!
  • Glenda T
    Glenda T
    What gets me is that these are the same people that the companies actually hires.
  • Claira p
    Claira p
    I'm horrified that you have to warn people agains using these words...ever.
  • Lillian H
    Lillian H
    The ugliest word was left out, but I met someone who always USED IT for everything. The word is:GATCHA and she used it in the interview and guess what? The job was given to her, she was a horrible worker, with a street language, working in a Radiology clinic.
  • Giles S
    Giles S
    Why isn't this common knowledge? How many people really go to interviews speaking like a stereotypical surfer from the 90's?Even after you get the job you should speak formally around your boss. If you act professional from the moment you walk into work to the moment you walk out, your bosses will notice it.If you sincerely have no idea what words you can substitute for great and awesome. Try excellent or fantastic. I highly recommend utilizing online thesauruses to further expand your vocabulary.
  • georgia c
    georgia c
    great advice.
  • Patrice R
    Patrice R
    I do not use these words in interviews, but I am also happy that you have pointed them out to me.
  • Linda G
    Linda G
    I haven"t had an interview yet, but assure this really help.Thank  You
  • Melvin E
    Melvin E
     Totally fricking great article. As a hiring manager for the YMCA I see this all the time. I say you could go to a speech craft class. Before I even consider hiring you, whatever. Your so awesome, Next.
  • Rosalie J
    Rosalie J
    Very good information on the scale of overused and lukewarm words.
  • Richard Mullens
    Richard Mullens
    Only the Interviewer knows who is the best person for the job. My approach in an interview is to let them know what I have to offer and what I have accomplished. I don't walk in there trying to convince them "I'm the best candidate" because I may not be.  Also I think half the battle is whether or not the interview person feels comfortable and likes you during the interview. I try to relax and not talk too much during the process.  Try to remain humble and be not be anxious I agree that some of the words listed should be avoided. I'll either get the job or I won't. Just be yourself and don't worry.
  • Adam G
    Adam G
    Please tell me what to say, beside "Great and Awesome". When Im at an interview and they are talking about the positive things that is what I say with a smile and a nod. I hope you don't expect me to say 'wonderful" during the job interview
  • Brian F. J
    Brian F. J
    If this type of advice is really necessary than we are becoming a nation of idiots.  To think I worry about diagramming a sentence.

Jobs to Watch