February 14 2020

Useful Vocabulary for Job Interviews

When it comes to job interviews, knowing as much as you can about the company and the position for which you’re applying will be a major asset. Let’s not forget the basics, though, when it comes to articulating your thoughts!

Here are some helpful words and phrases to help you speak clearly and confidently.


The interviewer may ask about your educational background/experience. Be sure to use the correct verb tense, depending on whether or not you are still in school.

Already Graduated

“I received a degree* in (Your Major) at (Your School).”

“I studied (Your Major) at (Your School).”

Still Studying

“I am currently studying (Your Major) at (Your School), and will receive my degree* on (Your Expected Date of Graduation).”

*Specify what kind of degree: Masters? Bachelors? Doctorate?


Work Experience

The interviewer will want to know about where you have worked and what your experience there was like. The number one thing to make clear is whether or not you still work in the position. Pay attention to your verb tenses!


Past Work Experience

“I was employed at (Company/Organization), from (Starting Date) to (Ending Date).”

“I worked as a (Position Title) at (Company/Organization) for (Number of Years/Months).”


Current Work Experience

“I have been working for (Company/Organization) since (Starting Date).”*

*If you currently work in the position, the interviewer may want to know why you are leaving it. Be sure to be clear, but DO NOT say cruel things about your current employer. You never know who is a friend with whom!


Describing Yourself

Let’s say the interviewer asks you: “What did you do in your previous job?”

You could say “I was a clerk,” but this doesn’t describe the tasks you completed very clearly.

Instead, you could say, “I... Organised; distributed; catalogued; located; collaborated; carried out; processed; planned; facilitated; prepared; supported; recorded (etc).”

Consider this response: “I organized and prepared files for my supervisor on a daily basis,” instead of “I was a clerk.” Which sounds more informative and professional to you?

Likewise, think about if the interviewer asks you: “Can you tell me a bit about yourself?”

Rather than describing yourself in vague terms, think of more specific and engaging words, such as: adaptable; honest; genuine; sincere; broad-minded; positive; practical; dependable; fair; competent; adept; motivated (etc).

This will provide the interviewer with a better image of your skills and experiences, and will also make you stand out from the rest. Just be careful: make sure you know which verbs are transitive and intransitive (meaning: if the verb needs to have an object after it). For example, you may confuse your interviewer if you simply say “I carried out,” without an object following it. A small, but very important detail! 

(For a more complete list of useful words, click here for adjectives to describe yourself, or here for verbs to describe tasks you’ve completed).


Describing How Your Skills Relate to the Position

Once you clarify your skills, you should relate them to the position for which you are applying.

Try this 3-step phrase.

1) “I can...”/ “I am...” (Describe your skill).

2) “because...”/ “due to...” (Describe how you got this skill or what experiences helped you improve this skill).

3) “which means that...”/ “What this means for you is that...” (Describe what benefit this has for the company).

For example:

“I am very organised, which is due to my experience as a secretary filing ten or more reports for my supervisor every day. What this means for you is that you would not need to waste time and energy training me.”

This is an effective way to tell your potential employer that you are thinking about the company’s needs, aside from your own.

No matter your level of English, never forget the essentials: word choice, grammar, and verb tenses. These details will help you on your way toward getting hired!

Source: Podesta, Sandra, 201 Killer Cover Letters

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