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Figuring out what to say in an interview that will leave the best impression in a short amount of time is always a challenge. Power words can impress potential employers when used strategically. On the other hand, overusing these words, using them incorrectly or forcing them into the conversation can quickly sour an interviewer’s favorable opinion of you. Through practice and self-evaluation, you can become comfortable interjecting pertinent power words into your answers naturally.
Words of Power
Also known as loaded language, power words are those used to persuade or influence an audience. In the business world, power words are typically action verbs that imply a high level of initiative and responsibility, such as launched, conceived, discovered, managed, organized and developed. Others are descriptors used to highlight personal talents and characteristics, including confident, dynamic, versatile, intuitive and hardworking. Familiarize yourself with power words, taking time to research the definitions and proper pronunciations of any unfamiliar terms. Rather than attempting to memorize an entire list, you can select a handful that best describe you and that you feel comfortable using in an interview.
After settling on a personalized list of power words, it’s time to practice incorporating them into conversations until you’re able to utilize them naturally. For terms you’ve never used before, work to integrate them into everyday exchanges until they become a part of your vocabulary. Prep to inject them into interview answers by reviewing potential questions an employer might ask. Practice with a partner or with a mirror until you’re comfortable using these powerful and positive words to describe yourself while maintaining eye contact with the interviewer. Power words combined with eye contact project confidence, honesty and directness. Record video of your practice interviews to evaluate your ability to use loaded language effortlessly and effectively.
All About You
On the surface, an interview is all about you, and power words should be used to highlight your personal talents, previous job performance, past achievements and future goals. However, overusing the word “I” in interviews can be a red flag indicating an overinflated ego. Sidestep this potential landmine by substituting the humble power word “we” whenever possible. Framing your job accomplishments with phrases such as “our division” and “together we” demonstrates teamwork talents without relying on the tired “team player” descriptor. This phrasing also allows your accomplishments to shine when you do point out your individual achievements. In contrast, if your every answer comes across as “I did this” and “I organized that,” your true triumphs will be lost in a sea of “I” statements.
Compliment the Company
If you’ve done your homework to prepare for the interview, you’ll be ready to answer the typical interview question: “Why do you want to work here?” Smart interviewees know to integrate loaded language into their answer. Power words shouldn’t be reserved only to describe yourself and your accomplishments; you also should incorporate them into answers to any questions regarding the company you’re interviewing with. Describing a potential employer with power words, such as dynamic and innovative, conveys a personal interest and investment in the company without having to plainly say, “I really want to work here.” This strategy also indicates to the interviewer that you will be loyal as an employee and passionate about the work.
- The Career Coward’s Guide to Interviewing; Katy Piotrowski
- Forbes: The Best Words to Use in an Interview, for Both Sides of the Desk
- Florida International University: Action Words to Use in Your Resume and Interview Answers
- Washburn University: Interviewing First Impressions
- ReadWriteThink: Loaded Words: Vocabulary That Packs a Punch in Persuasive Writing
- McGraw-Hill: Logic and Language
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