Job Interview Tips

6 buzzword phrases to eliminate from your vocabulary 

Written by Eric Titner

We’ve all been in this position—we’re at work or on an interview and all of a sudden we accidentally say something that we quickly realize sounds so awkward, so not right that we’d give nearly anything to somehow be able to take it back…but we can’t. The truth is, once something is out of your mouth and into the world there’s no do over, and depending on how bad it is it you may do some real professional damage—anything from losing some on-the-job cred to sinking your chances on an interview and everything in between.

What’s your best bet to avoid this situation? Simple—eliminate some obvious “red flag phrases” from your vocabulary. These include all the tired clichés, boring buzzwords, and meaningless jargon that are sure to elicit endless eye rolls when they’re spoken out loud, and depending on your audience it could have real consequences.

Check out the following 6 things that you should eliminate from your vocabulary, particularly when the stakes are high and everything you’re saying counts.

“I’m a workaholic.”

Whether you are or aren’t really a “workaholic”—and in today’s professional world, where the balance between one’s personal life and professional pursuits gets blurrier by the minute—good luck trying to define what a workaholic is, let alone whether or not it’s even a good or bad thing. The truth is, this term has officially slipped into the meaningless cliché bin and will garner the precise sort of reaction that it deserves, and it’s not a good one. Bottom line—most people appreciate folks who show a dedication and passion for their work, so no false modesty or false humble aphorisms are needed here.

“I’m a perfectionist.”

This one’s lying in the same “clichéd to the point of total meaningless” and—simply put—is never a good answer to any interview question that you’ll encounter, so just delete it from your memory. Yeah, we know it’s been used in the past to handle the old “What’s your greatest weakness?” question, but the truth is that this question doesn’t come up on interviews nearly as often as some people think it does, and if it does come up you should certainly come up with something more original. It’s ok to be honest and reflective when faced with this question and you can still come up with a satisfactory response—just try a little harder.


This is a somewhat newer buzzword that does seem to have a nice “professional sheen” to it at first listen, but what are you really saying when you use it? Typically it’s used on interviews to discuss a prior employment position that you somehow flipped into something else—does this sound like something you want a prospective employer to know that you may be looking to do in this new position if hired? Maybe not. Leveraging can come off as selfish, or at the very least self-centered, which may not work to your advantage when trying to sell yourself.

Any and all “fillers.”

Fillers are all the “likes,” umms,” “hmms,” and space-filling pauses used in conversations, and they never land well or make you look good. Fillers get especially annoying when the frequency of their use is high, and can really make you sound nervous and unpolished. Try practicing giving speeches without using fillers, and try to be mindful about when they pop up in conversation—and work hard to eliminate them from your vocabulary.

“I’m nervous.”

It’s ok to be nervous in life, but it doesn’t do you any favors to broadcast this to the world. Especially in your professional life and when on job interviews, your efforts should be spent trying to overcome any bouts of nervousness that you encounter—not trying to inform the world that they may be dealing with a nervous person. Work on eliminating this one from your conversations.

“I don’t have any questions.”

This one’s largely in reference to job interviews—where what you say really counts. Don’t forget that first and last impressions, both in job interviews and in other aspects of life, are what people tend to remember—do you want your lack of curiosity or unwillingness to engage more deeply on job interviews with some thoughtful questions be the last impression you make? Of course not. Always have a few carefully considered questions pre loaded when on interviews, it’ll really help cement the impression that you have a sincere interest in the company and position that you’re vying for.

There you have it—6 phrases that you should eliminate from your vocabulary moving forward. Follow the advice presented here, and you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor in whatever conversation situation you find yourself in!

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.