5 years ago
July 16, 2019

7 Words to Avoid During a Sales Job Interview

A sales job interview is your opportunity to make a great impression on a prospective employer. You want to present the best version of you, communicate why you’re a great…

Rhys Metler

A sales job interview is your opportunity to make a great impression on a prospective employer. You want to present the best version of you, communicate why you’re a great fit for the sales job, and put yourself in a position to be a frontrunner.

Job interviews are stressful. You’ll be asked some difficult-to-answer questions, and it’s important you answer them well. While many people focus on what they are going to say, they overlook the important role certain words have on the impression one makes.

According to Toronto sales recruiters, there are certain words or phrases that you can say during a sales job interview that could hurt your chances of getting the job. Utter the following words or phrases and you could find yourself eliminated from contention for the job:

1. Words You Don’t Use Often/Unfamiliar

We all want to sound intelligent and put our knowledge and experience on display to impress the interviewer, but using words you don’t use often or are unfamiliar with could backfire. Your answers could be interpreted as disingenuous and not authentic. You could make it seem like you are word dropping.

You also risk using the word in the wrong context. Avoid trying to sound intelligent; rather, use your intelligence to answer the questions in an engaging way.  The last thing you want to happen is using a word improperly and being asked about it by the interviewer. Stick with the words you know.

2. “Salary”

The word salary is not an issue itself; it’s just that you should not bring up the topic of salary or benefits during your first sales interview with a company. There are many people in sales who are driven by money alone, and many companies are wary about hiring people who are too focused on compensation. Even if you are just curious, it’s best to let the interviewer bring up the topic or wait until the later stages of the hiring process to discuss salary and benefits.

Toronto sales recruiters suggest you avoid asking about salary during a sales interview

3. “Try”

People use the word “try” all the time and in many different contexts. But it actually has a negative connotation and can affect a person’s perception of what you are communicating. The word “try” indicates an attempt, not a completed action. There is a big difference between saying, “I will try to get the sale” and “I will get the sale.”  Avoid words with ambiguity and use definitive words in their place.

4. “Old School”

Using phrases such as “old school,” “tried and tested,” and “traditional” to describe your approach to sales or how you do things can make you appear to be behind the times. While your intention may be to communicate you do things in a certain way or a proven way, it can also make it seem like you are out of touch with the technology and processes available today. Avoiding using words that make it seem like you are out of touch.

5. “Perfectionist”

No one is perfect. This is perhaps one of the most overused words during job interviews, especially in the context of answering questions about your weaknesses. Saying that you are a perfectionist is so overused that it has lost meaning and value. It doesn’t tell the interviewer anything about you and, since it’s used so much, it could make you seem similar to the rest of the candidates. Some interviewers see the word as a way to hide or avoid something.

6. “I Don’t” / “I Can’t”

Avoid using negative words and phrases if possible. Saying that you can’t or don’t do certain tasks will raise red flags with the interviewer. Rather than using words with negative connotations, make it clear that you are open to learning new skills and adding tasks to your repertoire. Most candidates don’t check every single box, but it’s important to communicate you will ramp up quickly and are happy to grow your skill set.

7. “Fired”

There is more than one “f” word you should never say during a job interview. Even if you were fired from your previous job and you have to address this topic during the interview, use softer words such as “let go,” “downsized,” or “laid off.” These words are not viewed as harsh by interviewers. Using the word “fired” will immediately set off red flags with most interviewers and can significantly impact your chances of getting the job.

More Sales Job Interview Tips and Insights From Toronto Sales Headhunters

Whether you are prepping for an upcoming sales job interview or you just want to learn more about the interview process, check out these informative and helpful posts by our sales recruiting experts. They are packed with tips and excellent job search advice:

Sell Yourself in Your Sales Interview! 8 Helpful Tips

6 Genius Ways to End Your Sales Interview and Leave a Lasting Impression

13 Things to Stop Saying in Sales Interviews If You Want the Job

Sales Interview Not Going as Planned? 4 Ways to Redeem Yourself

So, Here Are, Uhh, Common Crutch Words to Avoid During Sales Interviews

The Top 4 Traits You Should Show Off in Your Next Sales Interview


SalesForce Search is a Toronto sales recruiting company which specializes in the recruitment and placement of sales professionals. We recruit salespeople in every sector of the economy including, software, manufacturing, financial services and medical devices. Find the right salesperson for your organization, start your search here.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.