In a job interview, every word counts.

Even one bad answer could kill your chances at getting hired, Eric Yaverbaum, CEO of Ericho Communications, tells CNBC Make It.

Yaverbaum has interviewed thousands of candidates throughout his 40-plus year career as a public relations expert.

Interviewers tend to make snap judgments about candidates within minutes of starting the conversation, he explains — and saying anything that comes across as “arrogant, uninterested or weak” can instantly destroy a first impression.

Here are three phrases to avoid if you want to boost your chances of landing an offer, and what to say instead, according to Yaverbaum:

“I feel very strongly about…”

Why it’s bad: Asserting a strong opinion on a topic means you’ll instantly be perceived as being “inflexible” or difficult to work with, Yaverbaum explains.

What to say instead: “I’m always interested in learning about how companies approach [insert topic]. How does it work here?”

For example: If you want to work from home part-time but aren’t sure what the employer’s return-to-office policies are, you can say, “I’m always interested in learning about how companies approach hybrid and flexible work. How does it work here?”

This phrasing is “far less aggressive” and shows that you’re a “curious, open-minded individual,” Yaverbaum says.

“I read all about your company”

Why it’s bad: This sets you up for failure. What if the interviewer decides to ask you about a minute detail from the company’s last earning call, and you didn’t listen in? As Yaverbaum puts it, claiming you read “all about” a company is a “gross exaggeration” and can make you appear overconfident and insincere.

What to say instead: Bring up a specific detail about the company from your research.

For example: “I saw what your CEO said about Super Bowl advertising in her last newsletter and thought her insights were really interesting.”

Providing a clear, concrete example of something you read about the company that stuck out to you will show the interviewer that you’re a well-researched candidate who is genuinely interested in the work the organization is doing, Yaverbaum says.

“I don’t know”

Why it’s bad: While it might be your knee-jerk reaction to say, “I don’t know” to a question that stumps you, it can signal to an interviewer that you’re inexperienced or unprepared, Yaverbaum says.

What to say instead: ”That’s a really interesting question. Give me a minute to think about that.”

Pausing before answering a difficult question will not only give you more time to craft a thoughtful response — it’s a small gesture that can set you apart from other candidates.

“It’s easier to say, ‘I have no idea,’ when confronted with a problem than it is to try and offer a solution,” Yaverbaum explains. “Being calm and confident in your response tells an interviewer that you’re a team player and comfortable with problem solving, which are skills everyone wants in their employees.”

Source: CNBC

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