4 Ways to Improve Your Interview Vocabulary

4 Ways to Improve Your Interview Vocabulary

05/12/2019 Off By pauldrury

You don’t want to be searching for the right words during an interview.

No matter how amazing you are at your job, it isn’t a good look.

Yet, surprising numbers of job seekers find themselves caught out by having to talk about what they do. They go to work, do their job, but they rarely dissect their activity with the depths of scrutiny that an interview requires.

Many aren’t in the habit of finding the words to do themselves and their actions justice.

The box-ticking approach of many a bland appraisal process may shoulder some of the blame, and the fact that most managers are inordinately busy also doesn’t help. Your current employer is interested in results – how you achieved them is somewhat secondary.

Yet understanding “how” you operate is central to any good interview.

If you can’t explain it adequately, you are in trouble.

Whether a job search is looming on the horizon (it will always be there for most of us), or whether you are currently in the process, you need to ensure a ready stockpile of words to explain what you want to say. In a stressful interview, you haven’t got time to search for the right expression. These words need to be on the tip of your tongue.

That requires a resourceful approach to interview preparation. If you do not use these words in your daily job, how do you come across them?

Well, here are four simple but effective ideas to get you started:

Room next door practice. Have you ever recorded yourself and thought “wow, do I really sound like that?” The amount of ums, errs and meaningless filler words will probably horrify you. A great way of improving your delivery is to adopt a “room next door” approach. Imagine that you are sitting in a room next door and suggesting alternative words and phrases via an earpiece. If you are your own worst critic, your communication will improve.

Scriptwriting and editing. The alternative to the ad-hoc “room next door” approach is to draft and amend written answers to questions that you think might crop up. While I would never advocate canned interview answers, if you challenge the language that you are using, the improved vocab will definitely migrate into your real-life interviews. For this to be successful, you will need to find the words from somewhere….

Industry blogs and podcasts. Rather than swallowing a thesaurus (although this is no bad thing), I would suggest immersing yourself in industry podcasts, blogs and commentary of all kinds. While this may not help with the core content of your interview, your brain will become much more familiar with the industry lingo and you will find it that much easier to find the words that you need. We (sadly) only have so much brainpower, so spend it thinking about what to say rather than how to say it.

Read for pleasure. Lastly, this is something that we should all do more of. Rather than binge the latest box set, pick up any book and read it. Preferably a real one as I believe that we process language slightly differently when it is on a page rather than on a screen. Somehow, we savour the experience of reading a book that little bit more and the temptation to have micro-moments of distraction on another screen is not there.

While I accept the critical importance of body language and softer influencing skills in an interview, it remains a solid fact that we will be judged on the words that we choose.

Work on your interview language and you will be able to describe exactly how you shine.


Every job seeker should follow these #HRvoices on LinkedIn (just click their face!)

(If you post career-oriented content and would like to be included here, email: paul@outplacementwriter.com)