6 Phrases That Make You Sound Unqualified In Job Interviews
When you finally land an interview for an exciting role or for a position you think might be out of your league, the main thing you want to do is get through it without blowing it. But surprisingly, so many qualified candidates chip away at their credibility in interviews because of how they present their skills or talk about their experience.
Here are six phrases you should avoid using in your interviews if you don’t want to sound less qualified:
"I know I'm not the most qualified person, but..."
Be wary of saying this, especially if you’re changing careers or applying for a role that’s out of your comfort zone. You may think saying this shows that you’re honest, humble, and honored to be interviewing for the role. But, saying this diminishes your value. If you tell the interviewer you don’t believe you’re qualified for the role, then they’re going to believe you. After all, you know yourself better than they do.
Landing an interview means that the interviewer believes you're qualified enough, so don’t give them a reason to think otherwise. Instead, highlight the experiences, stories, and projects you’ve worked on that showcase your ability to excel in the role.
“I don’t have much experience with this, but…”
While this one is similar to the previous phrase, you may be tempted to use this if the interviewer inquires about a specific skill. For instance, one of my clients applied for a role that requested experience leading teams. Although she matched everything else and felt confident she’d be successful in the role, she doubted her leadership skills and thought that her years of experience managing a team of three wasn’t enough.
But as I shared with her, words stick, so even if you think you don’t have enough experience in one area, your language still matters. Instead of disqualifying yourself, go straight into the experience and skills you do have. Either show how your experience has prepared you to be an asset or show how your background has equipped you for this new challenge.
You may not even notice that you’re using the words "like" and "um" in your responses, but using filler words while talking about yourself can give the interviewer the impression that you’re not 100% confident about what you’re sharing. It can also chip away at your professionalism and make an interviewer question if you’d speak to clients or other stakeholders the same way if hired.
Of course, when you’re nervous, and your armpits are sweating, it can be hard to make sure those filler words aren’t slipping out. But, one helpful tip is to speak a bit more slowly and pause in between your statements. This will help you catch yourself rather than simply filling the air out of nervousness.
“What does your company do?”
If you don’t already know what the company does before you walk into an interview, then you probably don’t know how to meet their specific needs or solve their problems. This not only makes you come across as unqualified, but it’s also a red flag to the interviewer. Companies want to hire people who are excited about the role and the organization, and not knowing even basic facts about the company shows a lack of genuine interest in the organization.
On top of that, as an interviewee, not doing your research beforehand hinders you from standing out. So, take some time to not only analyze the job description but also read about the company.
Unless you and your team are interviewing for the role, you should not constantly use “we” in your interviews. Often, some corporate professionals fear taking ownership of the projects and initiatives their team accomplished together. But, not owning your individual contribution and saying “we” when describing your accomplishments erodes your experience and qualifications. It can cause the interviewer to question if you can handle the role you’re interviewing for without your team. So, instead of falling back on your team, identify your specific results and the impact you delivered and then highlight that in your interviews with confidence.
Rambling or dancing around a question…
This isn’t a particular phrase, but dancing around a question and rambling can make you seem unsure about your skills and qualifications, even if you know you are qualified for the position. Particularly, when you ramble, you put the responsibility on the interviewer to take away the most important elements of your response. You also risk losing their attention, and the worst outcome is that they won’t care enough to ask again and will move on still unclear about what you can do.
To prevent dancing around a question and rambling, get clear on what you bring to the table before the interview and decide on the skills and stories you want to use to back up what you can do. If you are asked a question that catches you off guard, request clarification and lean into the value and skills you know qualify you for the role.
There are so many ways that qualified candidates disqualify themselves in interviews without even realizing it. Avoiding these phrases will ensure that you don't sabotage your interviews and will increase your chances of standing out as a top candidate for the roles you desire.
Adunola Adeshola coaches high-achievers on how to take their careers to the next level and secure the positions they've been chasing. Grab her free guide.