Twelve Words to Say at a Job Interview – and Twelve to Avoid at all Costs

Research suggests that the first thing you say to a potential employer could bag you the job – or lose you it. So what are the best and worst opening lines?

The most crucial part of a job interview may happen before the interview itself begins. According to research from Resurgo Trust, a charity that helps disadvantaged young people find employment, prospective candidates are often judged by the quality of their small talk. In fact, the first 12 words you speak – between reception and the interview room – could make all the difference to your success.

Not everybody has a talent for small talk, and it can be hard to come across as affable in the stressful seconds before a big interview, but even a brief chat will give an employer vital clues about your confidence and communication skills. For that reason, it may be helpful to provide jobseekers with a range of typically positive 12-word icebreakers, and some less effective examples:



“Nervous? No, just excited. This looks like a fantastic place to work.”
“I ran a half marathon, a charity thing. How was your weekend?”
“Lovely weather, isn’t it? You can almost smell spring in the air.”
“Obviously I’ve done some research; I was impressed by last year’s figures.”
“Amazing building! It must take a while to find your way round.”
“No, I haven’t been waiting long, and I’ve been well looked after.”
“Let me be frank: I think I’d be a great fit here.”


“Nervous? Not me. My hands always shake like this in the morning.”
“The swelling’s gone down a lot. You should have seen me yesterday.”
“Oh man, that sun is bright! I’m not usually up this early.”
“Before we start, let me just double-check I’m at the right address.”

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