Interview buzzwords – are you using them well?

The language of business is littered with buzzwords. What’s in your wheelhouse? Are you an outside of the box thinker? Tell me about a game changer. At the end of the day, it’s about one thing. Who has the bandwidth to keep up? If you choose to use buzzwords in an interview, you have to be prepared to explain the concept.

The use of buzzwords in an interview have a way of making the interviewer ask probing questions to ensure there is some substance in the response. Think about the terms you use and ensure you have the back story.

When in the hunt for a management role, it is not uncommon to be asked how you would describe your leadership style. You may say participative, level five, transformational, servant or many other words that have been used to describe strong leaders. What does that mean to you? If you are a servant leader, you have a passion for helping others succeed that is central to your DNA. Talk about how you exemplify this style and give real examples of how you have helped others succeed.

Be careful of terms that you believe are well understood. Sea change is using often to describe a broad transformation. If you ask ten people to define sea change, you will get ten responses. Many people differ on the substance of the change, length of time to effect the change, or how broad the change was. If you want to use terms like this, follow the term by describing what you mean with the term. You then have the opportunity to ensure the term sticks and the interviewer understands your message.

Another term coming up lately in interviews is a reference to organizing or participating in a cross-functional team. This is a fantastic process and leads to broad buy-in and better ideas. Expect questions like: Who was involved in the team? Why was it better to involve many in the process? What did you learn from the process? What was the outcome? It’s a great conversation to have if you are prepared.

Ask your friends and colleagues if you use certain buzzwords often. You may not be aware of the terms, but those around you probably can point them out. I remember referring to “splitting the concepts into separate buckets.” My colleagues luckily starting poking fun at me, pointing out that “good ideas must all come in buckets.” That was the end of the bucket terminology.

As you continuously improve your interview skills, make sure you can actually describe continuous improvement – and that you do so with language that resonates with your audience.

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