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Annoying English Phrases Not To Use During an Interview (Or Ever)


436133626 91e15c98bb Annoying English Phrases Not To Use During an Interview (Or Ever)

Last year Oxford University researchers published a list of the Top Ten Most Irritating Phrases. Thanks to Steve Roesler at All Things Workplace for the reminder in his recent blog post. It's a good review, especially for those of you actively interviewing.

The top ten most irritating phrases:

  1. At the end of the day
  2. Fairly unique
  3. I personally
  4. At this moment in time
  5. With all due respect
  6. Absolutely
  7. It's a nightmare
  8. Shouldn't of (it is "shouldn′t have")
  9. 24/7
  10. It's not rocket science

I'd add "thinking out of the box" or any other variation of this overused expression. What would you add to the list?

Photo credit: Shtikl
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27 Comments - Add yours!

Alicia Wells (June 24th, 2009)

I’d add “no worries,” because it usually means the opposite.

Robert (June 24th, 2009)

“Like I said…”

Drives me nuts.

Jon Boroshok (June 24th, 2009)

How about “could care less.” It’s supposed to be “couldn’t care less.”

There’s also no such word as “anyways.”

Ashley (June 24th, 2009)

How about “it’s not all about me but?” It usually means all the person really cares about is herself.

Jon Boroshok (June 24th, 2009)

Let’s add 110% to that list. You can’t give 110%. If you give all you can, that’s your 100%.

Meredith (June 24th, 2009)

One of my most hated phrases: “It is what it is.” It doesn’t actually MEAN anything! What are you trying to say? It’s the all-purpose no-thought answer.

Jonathan Yarmis (June 24th, 2009)

“Trust me” is a double whammy. Does this mean I shouldn’t trust you unless you say this? And this immediately INcreases my skepticism, not alleviates it.

John Hazard (June 24th, 2009)

“You know?” or “You know what I’m saying?” If you have to ask me at the end of every statement, then I probably don’t know what you’re saying. I have others. Thanks as always, Lindsay.
- John Hazard

Katherine (June 24th, 2009)

I’d have to add “out of pocket” (especially when used incorrectly!); and coming from the tech world: “paradigm shifting” and “disruptive technology” and “I’ll ping you.”

Molly (June 24th, 2009)

Let’s see..nice post!

“At the end of the day” I think this post is “Fairly unique”. “I personally”, never use these phrases or at least, “at this moment in time”. Please, “With all due respect”, “It’s a nightmare” and these phrases “Shouldn’t of” been created.
“Absolutely”, I hear people using them “24/7″. I mean, come on people!!
“It’s not rocket science”

Steve Roesler (June 24th, 2009)


Hey, thanks for the mention. These kinds of phrases really get the blood pumping and the comments rolling.

I’m thinking that every interviewer ought to be allowed one legal, legitimate “whack”/year when one of these is uttered by a candidate. Heck, instant feedback could prove helpful–at the next interview.

Keep writing…very much enjoy your approach.

Steve Roesler

Gerard Cunningham (June 24th, 2009)

“Going forward”

DannonL (June 24th, 2009)

“To be honest with you…” Was everything said before this dishonest? I have also heard people say “I’m not gonna lie…” also.

I say some of these phrases out of habit, but I will try harder not to use any more irritating phrases. Thanks for the post.

Rebecca Ayers (June 24th, 2009)

How about the word “quit” as in: …and that’s why I decided to quit my job. Versus explaining why you left a company for personal or professional reasons. Anyone who admits to me that they “quit” a former job, would not be someone I’d rush to hire.

Lauren Minors (June 24th, 2009)

I will add “in the loop” to the list as well, and anything accompanied by air quotes is instantly more irritating.

Jeannine (June 24th, 2009)

“Do you know what I mean?”

I have no idea what you mean and you need to stop ending every statement with that question.

Loren Pomerantz (June 24th, 2009)

“I’m the type of person who (‘that’ is even worse!)…..” Commit to saying how you approach or react to situations, not what people like you do.

Bonnie (June 24th, 2009)

“Touch base”

miss orian (June 24th, 2009)

I hate the word pro-active, it’s so jargony and yet everyone uses it. paradim, synergy,and aggregate all hated words I don’t think most people know exactly what they mean, they just repeat them.

Howie (June 24th, 2009)

There are many others such as bottom line, partnership, leading edge, unique, thought-leader, and best practices.

Susan (June 24th, 2009)

I disagree with 24/7, because it so accurately describes the extent of on-call responsibilities — provided, yes, you did get calls at 3 a.m.

For example: “I was a crisis communication contact for the hospital and was available 24/7 while on call; my on-call rotation was two-weeks on, two-weeks off.

kassie (June 24th, 2009)

“if you will”

Bill (June 24th, 2009)

One thing to be careful of: No matter what you do, where you are, or who you’re talking to (to whom you’re talking?), spoken English is not, and should not be, the same as well practiced and highly edited, by the book, written English. Do you think Shakespeare spoke the way he wrote? If he did, he’d probably have been run out of town. Yes, of course some phrases are ridiculously overused, and many of those are meaningless or counterproductive. Some are just quibbles (e.g., “couldn’t care less” and “could care less” being equally acceptable, for example. The second is just a little more sarcastic, rather than direct). At the same time — another example — my opening sentence reads “One thing to be careful of”… but correct usage would dictate “one thing of which to be careful”. Now, how many of you speak THAT correctly under normal conditions, never mind under the tension of a job interview? (Put your hands down, you two in the back — you know you do it!)

But I would still add “awesome” or “cool”, especially when reacting to how much fun everyone has working here, or especially in reaction to an actual offer (do people even get offers these days?)

If you’re from New England — don’t say “wicked cool” or for that matter, “wicked” anything.

And please — whether spoken freely in your office, the cafeteria, or obviously in an interview, can we delete “whatever” from every edition of every dictionary, other than those reference dictionaries for students of archaic language usage?

Shelly (June 25th, 2009)


kassie (June 25th, 2009)

“soup to nuts”

demotivated (July 2nd, 2009)

as per the guidelines
in scope (out of scope)
anything “gaining traction”
streamline the process
“optimal” anything
high level update (how ’bout a low level update instead?)

Lisa (July 6th, 2009)


What the hell does “By and Large” mean anyway??

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