The best things you can say in a job interview

These buzzwords and phrases are music to any hiring manager’s ears.

The best things you can say in a job interview

Prepare what you want to say in your job interview.

Sweaty palms. Nervous laughter. Fidgeting. Welcome to the job interview! Unless you’re made of titanium, the question-and-answer process is likely to rattle your nerves no matter how many years you’ve been working a job.

Thing is, the key to acing your next job interview is pretty simple: Say the things that hiring managers want to hear. That’s not meant to be a joke! The core goal of every job interview is to impressing a hiring manager. Granted, all jobs demand different skills, but there are a few universal phrases that will go over well no matter what industry you’re in or what position you’re interviewing for.

Check out these phrases and buzzwords that will delight every hiring manager, and learn how and when to incorporate them into your interview answers.

“I was so excited when I learned this position was open.”

If you’re just “meh” about a job or a company, chances are you won’t make a lasting impression on an interviewer. To persuade an employer that you’re the best person for the job, you have to show enthusiasm, says Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster. That means expressing upfront that you’re stoked about the position and the company.

Kelly Marinelli, president and principal consultant at Solve HR, Inc., recommends coupling this statement with something specific about the position: “I love creating content for clients in this space, and I’d love to do it here with this team.” There’s no shame in being blunt.

“This job aligns well with my experience and qualifications, and here’s why.”

One of a hiring manager’s goals is to find someone who can move somewhat seamlessly into the position. That means you’re well versed in the nuts and bolts of the job requirements and have the skills to execute.

“A job interview is an extension of your cover letter,” explains Salemi. “It gives you the opportunity to explain, in detail, why someone should hire you.”

Hence, it’s important to have anecdotes prepared that demonstrate your expertise. Choose stories that highlight your best strengths and core skills. For example, “I see that the job requires someone who thoroughly knows how to use XYZ software; I relied on XYZ software in my past two jobs, which helped me cut delivery time by 10%, so I’m very comfortable with it. I even trained new employees in how to use the program, which is something I could do for you here.”

By telling such stories, you’ll be helping to explain what contributions you can make to the company and how you produce measurable results.

“I read about that project on your website.”

An informed, knowledgeable candidate is a powerful candidate. “Any time you can demonstrate you’ve done your homework is a way you set yourself apart,” says Marinelli.

So, do a little detective work before you interview by reading not only the company’s website but also its social media, business reports, and press releases—and look at recent news stories about the company for timely insight into the company’s agenda.

“Let me tell you about a time that I solved a problem like that.”

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2018 survey, problem solving is one of the soft skills new college graduates lack the most. But there’s a big difference between saying “I’m a problem solver” and actually showing how you’re one.

Your best approach, says Marinelli, is to read up on the company (again, check out news articles, press releases, social media pages, etc.) ahead of your interview to learn what challenges the company is facing, and explain how you’ve solved similar problems in the past.

For example: “I read on your website you’re preparing to launch a new product in the fall, but not many blogs or media outlets seem to be talking about it. I worked on launching a product at my old job, and was very involved in developing the press releases and securing media coverage for it. I’d love to share what I learned with your team and help your new product get more exposure.”

Keywords from the job description

Want to show a hiring manager you fit in with their company? Speak their language—almost literally—advises Salemi. Job postings don’t just outline what the requirements are for a position—they provide you with buzzwords that you can use during a job interview to make you a more appealing candidate.

For instance, if a job position uses the phrase “multichannel marketing initiatives,” reuse that phrase in one of your answers: “I know that problem solving is one of the crucial skills for this position. At my last job, I was working on developing multichannel marketing initiatives and relied on my problem solving daily. Let me give you a few examples.”

“Can you clarify?”

If all you’re doing is rattling off answers, an interviewer might feel like you’re not really listening to them and are just waiting for your next opportunity to talk. By asking simple follow-up questions during an interview, you show you’re fully engaged in the conversation, says Lynda Zugec, managing director at HR consulting firm The Workforce Consultants.

For instance, asking for clarification demonstrates that you care about really understanding what the other person is saying. You let them know they’re not wasting their time with you.

The interviewer’s name

One way to forge a human connection with a hiring manager is to casually use the person’s name two or three times during the interview. It sounds simple, but it works.

“Job interviews are very much about intuition and chemistry,” says Lynda Spiegel, resume writer and job search coach at Rising Star Resumes. “Saying the interviewer’s name can help you cement a relationship.”

Give smart answers

You always want to choose your words carefully during a job interview because it’s your prime opportunity to make a great impression on hiring managers. Want some help crafting compelling answers to their questions? Join Monster today. As a member, you’ll get interview insights, career advice, and job search tips sent directly to your inbox to help you become a top-shelf candidate. It’s not recommended to go in blind on questions like, “Can you tell us about yourself?” or, “Why do you want to leave your current job?” But with Monster’s expert help, you’ll know just what to say.