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6/5/11 - 10 Overused Phrases Interviewers Hate

By: Jeff Hindenach, Inside Tech
Interviews are hard. You’re nervous and you’re usually in close quarters. You have to answer question after question with little recovery time. Your entire professional future seems to hang in the balance of this one encounter. It’s no wonder so many interviewees resort to clichés when answering interview questions.  But panicked responses aren’t going to land you that job.  So we’ve shined a spotlight on the 10 most common overused interview answers and given you some alternative answers that will carry more weight and keep you on track for success.
1. “I’m Really A Hard Worker”
In a job interview, everyone is hard working. No one is going to admit to being lazy or not caring about their job. The phrase “hard working” is at this point pretty much white noise to most interviewers. Everyone says it, so how can it possibly add value to your image? You only have so much time in a job interview — make every word count. 

ALTERNATIVES: Try giving specific examples of why you’re so hard working. Do you often stay late? Do you take on extra assignments? It’s always a good idea to give the interviewer something tangible to consider, otherwise your words could end up feeling like empty promises.
2. “I’m a Total Team Player.”
While being able to work with others is key, phrasing it this way makes it sound clichéd. And it doesn’t just suggest cheerleading imagery, it’s also very vague. Sure, no one wants a recluse for a coworker or employee, but beyond just the baseline ability to be social, what else do you bring to the communication table? 

ALTERNATIVES: Talk about your ability to communicate with other members of your office. Cite specific examples of times when it was imperative for you to play well with others. Also touch on certain stellar communication skills that you think you have. Know how to craft the perfect email? Spent a lot of time with clients on the phone? Give the interviewer a fuller picture of your interactive skills and leadership potential.
3. “I am Loyal to a Fault.”
 While loyalty is a noble trait, no employer really believes that you are going to sacrifice your own well being or advancement for the company. No one knows how they will fit into a company until they are there. If you preach the virtues of loyalty in the interview but end up hating the job and moving on in six months, it reflects badly on your professionalism. 

ALTERNATIVES: Be honest. Lay out your long-term goals for that particular company. If you want to use this position to gain experience and then move on to loftier goals, let them know. Your drive and honesty will be just as valuable as your loyalty. And it will give the company incentive to keep you engaged, so they can hold on to you as long as possible.
4. “How Much Does It Pay?”
This is one of the most annoying questions for most interviewers. You’ll find out how much the job pays when you get the offer. Until then, focus on the position and how you can contribute to the company. No matter how you phrase the question, asking about money at this stage only makes you look like you’re just in it for the money. Even if that’s true, is that how you want to come off? 

ALTERNATIVES: If finding out the salary is really that important to you, ask to talk to other employees on your level, ones who won’t be making the hiring decision, to get an idea of work environment. Then, ask them about the benefits package and compensation. But trust us — don’t make it all about the money.
5. “I Can Take on Any Challenge.”
Let’s be honest, you’re not Superman. Even he couldn’t take on every challenge. You are only human, and you have your limitations. Saying you can take on anything only sets you up for failure in the end. Don’t let your desperation for a job be the kryptonite to your career development! 

ALTERNATIVES: Try something like, “I’m quick and can pick things up pretty easily.” There’s always a learning curve with any new task, but the quicker you can learn the ins and outs, the more efficient you will look to your boss. Be realistic about your limitations. If you can’t complete the tasks you promised you could, your boss might start to doubt your abilities in other areas.
6. “My Current Boss Loves Me.”
In most cases, your interviewer doesn’t know your current boss, so there is no point of reference here. An interview is specifically about you and your job skills, not what others think of you. Your references will be more than happy to speak on your behalf when the time comes, if you get that far in the hiring process. 

ALTERNATIVES: Think of why your current boss values you. Were there specific projects that you aced? Are you efficient and always on time? What makes you stand out? Take all those reasons and verbalize them during the interview. Giving specific examples not only shows concrete proof of your skills, but also that you know what your strengths are.
7. “You Would Be Crazy Not to Hire Me.”
First, never call your interviewer crazy, even if it’s a figure of speech. Second, you’re one of a dozen or more candidates they may be taking to. There is no way you can be sure you are the most qualified person for the job. If anything, it just makes you look desperate and dramatic. Don’t be that guy (or gal). 

ALTERNATIVES: It’s true, the end of an interview can be awkward, but don’t resort to more awkward clichés. When ending an interview, it’s always good to summarize the key points about the conversation you just had. Leave the interviewer thinking about the many reasons you are the one they want  as they leave the room.
8. “I’ll Do Anything.”
Never resort to begging in an interview. Why would you want to sound desperate? Most employers are looking for poised, confident professionals who are interested in advancing their careers. If you resort to begging, it looks like you don’t really care about the job and just want any kind of steady income. 

ALTERNATIVES: Try to funnel your desperation into enthusiasm for the job. Make sure they know that you value the position and not just the paycheck. Mention specific parts of the job that you are excited about diving in to and even give examples of projects you’re already thinking about. This will show how much you want the job without sounding desperate.
9. “I Think I’m the Perfect Fit for This Job.”
It’s a rare occasion when someone fits a job perfectly. If the interviewer doesn’t agree with you, they may question your understanding of the position as a whole. Enthusiasm is good, but it’s better to present a realistic view of the job and show that you have a strong understanding of what the requirements will be. Remember that change is a part of life, and learning is change!  Prove to the interviewer that you know how to learn fast and adapt! That concept will get you the job.

ALTERNATIVES: You may not be the perfect fit for the job, but if you are pretty darn close, give them the reasons why. List specific examples of why you think you would thrive in that role and how the company would benefit from your specific experience. Make sure you are addressing every part of the job description and how you fit into each throughout the interview.
10. “I Wasn’t Appreciated at My Last Job.”
This is a fancy way of saying that you and your previous employer didn’t get along. Now the interviewer is wondering why there was an issue and if the same problems will arise if they hire you. Even if it was your employer’s fault, saying this out loud makes you seem like you could be difficult to work with or too demanding. 

ALTERNATIVES: Keep any digs or trash talking about your previous employer to a minimum. You don’t want to get the interviewer even thinking about negative things. If they ask why you left, tell them your career path did not line up with the company’s goals for you. Never make it personal. Keep it in the  context of your career development.