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Interview Power Words

It's important to make a good first impression, especially during a job interview.  Recruiters and hiring managers are listening, either consciously or subconsciously, for certain terms or words that are often referred to as interview power words.  These are the buzz words to say during an interview to impress the interviewer and lock up the job.

Unfortunately, it's not all that easy.  The last thing anyone wants to do is to start throwing around these "power words" to impress someone during an interview.  It's going to sound very unnatural, and even worse, trying to remember them might add to any pre-interview anxiety.

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Fortunately, there are several techniques that can be used to help say the right thing during a job interview.  For example, it's possible to learn how to weave them into the conversation.  Job candidates just need to know when, and how, to use these techniques.

Power Words and Behavioral Interviews

This website has several articles dedicated to behavioral interviews.  Job hunters that have never been on this type of interview before should focus their energy on reviewing that information.

The entire technique of responding to behavioral interview questions is unnatural, and interviewees will be asked to answer questions using a prescribed format known as a STAR response.  In fact, even the way behavioral questions are asked is unique.

The good news is that behavioral interviewing can be improved through practice.  That means it's possible to identify some of the power words to use, and practice this technique ahead of time.  This will make responses to questions sound somewhat rehearsed.  But that's not a big deal during this type of interview.

The following two hints should be helpful for anyone called in for a behavioral interview:

  • Review all the information possible on the technique itself.  It's important to understand the types of questions asked, and how to respond to behavioral questions during the meeting.
  • Take a look at our article on resume power words.  This article contains hundreds of examples of power words that can be used during an interview.

Practice using these words with the STAR response method and this will maximize the chance of success during this type of interview.

Power Words and Traditional Interviews

The approach to using power words during a traditional job interview is going to be a bit different than during a behavioral one.  That's because traditional interview questions are less intellectually demanding, and the response can be far less structured.

For that very reason, attempting to insert buzz words into a responses or conversations with the person conducting the interview is going to sound "forced" or "scripted."  Inserting them into a conversation may sound deliberate, and that may arouse the suspicions of the interviewer.

All these warnings aside, it's still possible to use power words during this type of meeting.  But rather than memorize a specific list of words to use, a better approach is to understand what makes a word so potent during the conversation.

Examples

Power words are usually action words or verbs.  Some interviewees believe it's important to insert these words into their responses because they are more powerful in expressing what was accomplished.  For example, take a look at the following statement pairings:

Example 1

  • I kept accounting records for company XYZ.
  • I maintained accounting records for company XYZ.

Example 2

  • I got a great deal on the software used at our call center.
  • I negotiated a great deal on the software utilized at our call center.

Example 3

  • I used to figure out business cases so our company could create new products.
  • I was responsible for developing business cases to support our company's launch of new products.

In each of these pairings, we've used power words in the second statement; demonstrating exactly how to use them during an interview.  If someone's not used to talking in this fashion, they should practice well ahead of the meeting.  If speaking this way is completely unnatural, even after practicing, then this approach may do more harm than good.


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