Here Are the Most Important Phrases to Say in a Job Interview (According to Research)

Job interviews are the worst. And if you’re an online media professional, they’re the worst of the worst. A job interview means meeting strangers face to face to answer questions on demand with precision and charm. These are assets many of us may have on Twitter or in the pub, but which tend to go sorely missing when facing a panel of potential employers.

Unfortunately, if you don’t want to get stuck in the same job, with the same wage forever and ever, every so often it becomes necessary to check out the want-ads, make some applications (of the applying for something kind, rather than the cellphone software type) and prepare your suit and shiny shoes to go and impress at a job interview or two.

If you’re one of those people who never knows quite what to say when put on the spot, you probably wish somebody would invent an ‘autofill’ for the parts when you’re due to same something during an interview. Well, we don’t quite have that yet, but the next best thing is a list of phrases that it is (almost) always worth saying during a job interview.

Of course, these phrases kind of work the opposite to an autofill. There are plenty of good examples of things to say that just need you to fill in the bit at the end to make it more unique and specific for the situation. For example, “this job sounds perfect for me because…” – and then you add your bit. (This phrase is actually a great way to end a job interview because it gives you a chance to sum up your strengths and your ambitions and restate them in context of anything you’ve learned during the job interview. Think of it as a closing pitch, and an upbeat note on which to leave the interview.)

Let’s look at some other useful things to say in a job interview.

How to make an impression

When you walk through the door to the interview, the panelists may have some idea of what you will be like, depending on your resume and their imagination! Starting positively will help to establish that their instincts were right when they green-lit you for the interview stage.

There are three things to be positive about: the job, the employer, and yourself. First, make it clear that you really want this job. It sounds obvious but many candidates will concentrate so much on discussing the ins-and-outs of the work itself, that they won’t communicate their enthusiasm for doing it! A good, non-desperate way to express your desire for the job is to say something like, “I was so excited when I learned this position was open” during the introductions.

You can use this to lead into something positive about the company, too. While doing your pre-interview research, try to identify a couple of things the company has done that you value and respect on a professional level. So it becomes: “I was so excited when I learned this position was open. I really liked your original approach to your latest Facebook marketing campaign.”

Your interviewers are likely to ask you to say something about yourself before you get started. This needn’t be a full sales pitch, but it’s a good chance to get across your essential selling points. If you’re experienced, tell them how many years you’ve put in. If you went to a good school, tell them where you graduated. If your experience working in the community or as a parent gave you what you need to do this job, lead with that.


Confidence is important in an interview, but that doesn’t mean you need to be brash and outgoing if that is not your natural way. Content, as they say, is king. Instead of giving empty statements like “I’m good at this,” talk yourself into the job by telling your interviewer what you can do for them and how. Identify their ‘problem’ or the main purpose of your role, and begin “here’s how I can help your company…” In these days of corner-cutting and job cuts, establishing your value in the role you’ve applied for is an excellent way to convince the boss you’re the right person for the right job.

What to ask

Employers want to feel not just that you can do the job, but that they can work with you. They want to see some evidence that you are an actual human being – despite your extraordinary resume! A natural human conversation tends to include a few questions on each side, and not just a series of answers. To show that you are human and also that you’re not just fixated on your own answers, show an interest in your employer by asking them some questions, too.

But what to ask? One way to show you are engaged with what they’re saying is to ask them questions in response – even if it is just to request clarification, e.g. “Could you explain the part about…?”

It also works to repeat their statements back to them to ensure you’ve understood fully – but try rephrasing them to show you’ve got the gist but just want a deeper comprehension, e.g. “So what you’re saying is…?


You can also think about asking more probing questions to make an unexpected impression. “At the end of the interview, ask where you stand,” advises Carolyn Betts Fleming, the CEO and founder of Betts Recruiting.“Most employers appreciate somebody who is going to close the deal, whether you’re going for a sales role or something in another department altogether.”

How to sign off

First impressions may be the most important, but last impressions are often what linger. It’s easy to get to the ‘goodbyes’ and ‘any more questions?’ and feel like your task is done – only to undo your good work with a clumsy outro.

Remind your interviewers that you want the job. Sum up what you will do for them, and why the job is so ideal for you. Push yourself into place as the piece of the puzzle that they are missing. Be humble, but bold; be clear – you want this job.

And once you’ve left the interview and returned to your civilian life, there may still be more to say – especially as you work in digital communications! Send a follow-up email (or a paper note if you are so inspired) to thank your potential boss for meeting. This will give you an edge over 76% of your competitors.

Think about including a link to something they may not have seen in your resume, for example a recent successful online campaign that you’ve worked on – or even an article you mentioned reading in the interview that seemed to catch their interest.


And you can always clarify or add to a point you tried to make during a particularly tricky question. This isn’t your chance to rewrite the whole interview, so keep it to one point, and explain yourself clearly and concisely without over-apologizing.

It’s a lot to think about, but with a handful of charming and informative phrases in your interview arsenal, you’re sure to improve your shot at your dream job. For a quick recap of some of the ideas put forward above, check out this new visual guide to what to say in interviews.

12 things to say in a job interview to boost your chances - infographic
Sweaty palms. Nervous laughter. Fidgeting. It's normal to feel stressed or anxious before an important job interview. Because this is your one chance to sell yourself to new employers and stand out from competition, you'll have to make the most out of this golden opportunity. The good news is that anyone can ace their interview. By incorporating these essential phrases into your answers, you're sure to leave a good impression on any hiring manager.
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