HandshakeOn the surface, interviews can appear as straight-forward conversations and information exchanges — that is, you simply need to give the appropriate answers to the questions that are asked.

However, interviews are truly about more than just the content of your responses: you actually need to convey the information in the right way. You need to master the language of job interviews in order to appear as both an effective and credible candidate. The ideal interviewing language is composed of four key elements.

1. ‘I’ Statements. 

“I” statements are simply sentences or statements that begin with the word “I,” and they are one of the most powerful types of statement that you can use in an interview. Why? Because most interviewers will require you to give examples of how you have shown specific skills or behaviors in work situations. Your interviewer will be assessing the behaviors that you displayed and the positive impact that you made on the situation. They want to know that you were the one making things happen and that you were not simply being carried along with the crowd.

Candidates whose language is full of “I” statements — like “I did this,” “I created that,” “I changed this,” and “I instructed them to,” —  sound more personally responsible and credible than candidates whose language is full of collective responsibility words like, we, they, us, etc.

Of course, its fine to acknowledge the contribution of others, but make sure there is a clear distinction between they did and what you did, and focus more on what you did.

2. Action Words

Unless you are applying for a job as a statue, it should be pretty clear that employers want employees who are dynamic and make things happen. They don’t want passengers, and the best way to make yourself appear like a driver and not a passenger is to use action words, such as: created, increased, made, introduced, restructured, persuaded, etc. Language like this shows that you drove change and made things happen.

3. Quantifiers

Try to quantify as many of your achievements and actions as possible — otherwise, you will appear vague and not credible. For example, when talking about achievements, be specific about scope, numbers, dollar values, and product names. Make use of statistics, percentages, and time spans to quantify the exact scope of your achievement. This will make you appear much more credible and capable than someone who is vague and who neglects to correctly quantify their achievements.

4. Contextually Relevant References

At relevant points during the interview, make references to the prospective employer’s company culture, products, services, and key personalities to show that you are well-informed about the business. For example, you might be talking about a specific product you worked on at your old company, and you might briefly highlight that this product is actually very similar to the prospective employer’s product X, Y, or Z, which shows your familiarity and affinity with the employer. Companies value cultural fit above many other qualifications, so it’s vital that you demonstrate understanding of and sympathy with the culture.

If you can master these four elements of interview language, you will sound more credible, effective, relevant, and appealing to prospective employers.

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