5 Phrases to Strike from Your Interview Vocabulary

Making a great interview impression is the key to landing a great job. You’ve polished your resume (and your shoes), thoroughly researched the company and prepared some great answers for common interview questions, but that may not be enough win the interviewer over. What you say and how you say it are critical tools in your interview arsenal.

Here are five phrases to avoid:

“When I helped on the Johnson case…”

Discretion is of the utmost importance when it comes to legal support. If you name drop clients, the hiring manager may worry that you will be equally offhand with their firm’s clients. Talk about the kind of work you performed in a general sense, but leave out the specifics if you hope to become a trusted member of the team.

“I’m a perfectionist.”

This is a surprisingly common answer to the question “What’s your biggest flaw?” Come on. You don’t really believe perfectionism a flaw. Be honest. Reveal a real flaw and how you strive to overcome it. If you struggle with juggling multiple projects, discuss the system you’ve developed for managing them. If you have trouble remembering names, talk about the mnemonic device you use to know which client you’re talking to.

“That’s cool.”

You may think you’d never say that in an interview, and you may not, but if your interviewer is friendly and easy to talk to, you may slip into slang or inappropriately casual language or phrasing. Present your business self, not your happy hour self, throughout the conversation.

“I don’t know.”

If the interviewer asks a question that you don’t know the answer to, don’t say you don’t know. Ask follow-up questions for clarification. If the interviewer asks you if you have performed a task that you have not, discuss a similar task you have done and relate how the skills would translate.

“At my last job…”

This phrase is fine unless it is followed by anything bad. “Don’t say anything negative about your employer” is probably contained in every book and article about interviewing, yet candidates do it all the time. The interviewer won’t know if what you say is true or if you are just a complainer. Fall back on that old standby – if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

For more advice on job-winning interview techniques, contact the experts at Kent Legal. We can help you find (and prepare for!) opportunities in law firms and legal departments throughout the greater Toronto area. Contact us today to get started.

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