How Much Proper Words During An Interview Matter

Proper words during an interview can help you get the second interview.

Words can have lots of different meanings. For example, the word for “snow” has over fifty different lexicons for the Eskimo in Iceland.  “Snow” does not just mean snow there; however, in the lower forty-eight, there is only one word for snow.  The way you use words is critical in the interview process.  Don’t you want to use the proper words during an interview? Just this week alone, I had one manager that moved an individual forward because of the words that he uses; whereas, another manager judged critically what words someone chose to convey in the interview process.

Proper Words During An Interview: Me Vs. We

So, today let’s go back to basics during the preparation for the interview.  You must not only think about what you are going to say, but more importantly how you are going to say it.  Certain words have strong meanings in the process while other words that you may select can convey selfish or “lack of team” vibes. Someone that constantly is saying, “I, I , I…”  instead of, “We, we, we…” are going to be certainly seen as an individual that is not looking to benefit the team but only himself or herself.  Now in certain examples, that is not a bad thing, especially if someone is looking for a maverick type of personality to come in and dominate a sales territory.  You want to choose the proper words during an interview to reflect you and the position properly. Referenced here in my favorite sales movie “Glen Gary Glenn Ross” is this quote, “ABC – Always be closing, no matter what. And not to worry or think about anybody else, including your prospect, and win that Cadillac.” 

Define “Working Remote”

That movie about closers is old and outdated.  Today the concept is to work as a team, close as a team. Always think about your client first, not yourself.   Another word that can have a direct response is the word “remote.”  A word three or four years ago was never bantered about; however, now “remote” can mean so many things like the word “snow.”  You may be using the proper words during an interview, but it may have to be coupled with clarity in the definition. For some remote can mean coming into the office once a quarter. For others, it could mean coming into the office once a week and working the remainder time at home for the balance of the week.  Remote workers are definitely in demand, but when you ask about a remote position you have to be extremely clear on what you mean when saying remote: what your thoughts are about working remotely, if you are thinking one day a week or one day a quarter, or if you consider not even coming into an office at all. 

Clarity Is Key: Using Proper Words During An Interview May Not Be Enough

This is just one thought about choosing the proper words during an interview.  Words have different meanings for different people.  You must be keen if you are picking up some sort of friction when you choose a word or a concept during the interview process.  You must be aware if you have struck a chord of concern, and immediately address it right there and then during the interview process.  Many managers will go over the interview at the conclusion of the interview in their head, and there may be certain concepts or choices of words that will influence them one way or another.  If you feel that you may have misconveyed your thought, that is the time. The conclusion of the interview is the time to ask, “Is there any area that I may not have addressed to you completely? Can I further elaborate on any area of concern for you before we conclude the interview?”

Two Must-Have Questions

It’s not just about using the proper words during the interview, but the closing of the interview is the most important thing you can do adequately.  I always recommend having two closing questions for my candidates.  The first one is to clear up any misconceptions that may have been raised and the other is a very strong platform-related question. Something that would be directly to how you can do your work at the new firm.  This leaves the hiring manager with the following impressions: the candidate cares that everything was expressed correctly, and the candidate is aware that the decision they make will translate into revenue for the new firm.  Choose your words correctly to advance to the next stage of the interview process.  We are here to help and prepare you properly for your next career transition.


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About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.