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9 Things to Say in a Job Interview

A man wondering what to say in a job interview

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When you think about what to say in a job interview, you probably assume you’ll be answering common interview questions. And while what you say when you answer those questions matters, there are a few more things you should say in a job interview that you may not have thought about.

Know What You Bring to the Table

Before worrying about what to say in a job interview, take a few moments and think about your skills and experiences. This will help you frame your answer in a way that’s unique to you and help the interviewer see how you’ll fit in the role and at the company.

Jamie Guilford, associate director of employer relations at York College of Pennsylvania, says that before the interview, job seekers should consider all they’ve amassed. “[You] have skills from other experiences…including academic projects and research; part-time jobs; student clubs and activities; volunteering. In preparing for the interview, consider all of these experiences.” And don’t forget about the skills you’ve developed in a Forage virtual job simulation.

Cataloging your skills and abilities will help you formulate your answers and guide you on what to say throughout your interview.

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What to Say in a Job Interview: Getting Started

They say that first impressions matter, so make yours count. Here are two critical things you should say at the start of a job interview.

Nice to Meet You

One of the first things you should try to say in a job interview is, “Nice to meet you.” This is true no matter how many interviewers you meet in a day. It can help you establish a positive and professional rapport with the hiring manager and demonstrate politeness. Alternatively, you can open with, “How are you today?” to get the conversation going.

Bonus tip: Consider saying, “Nice to meet you, Interviewer’s Name,” (or “How are you today, Interviewer’s Name?”) to help you remember who you’re speaking with. This can be especially helpful if you have trouble remembering names or have a panel interview where you speak with multiple interviewers at once.

Thank You

While saying “thank you” is probably second nature, sprinkling it in during an interview demonstrates you’re aware the hiring process can be just as taxing on the company as it is on a job seeker.

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For example, saying, “Thank you for interviewing me,” is a way to express you’re grateful the company has selected you, while saying, “Thank you for meeting with me,” is a way to thank the hiring manager for making time in their schedule.

Don’t overdo it, though. You don’t need to say “Thank you” for every little thing. That could come across as inauthentic, rehearsed, or even anxious. Use it sparingly and when you are truly thankful for something.

What to Say in a Job Interview: Make the Middle Stand Out

Once you’re past the introductions, you’re in the thick of the interview. While your answers will be unique to you and tailored to the specifics of the position and company, here are a few things you should try to say during the job interview.

Expert Tip

Remember to always tie your answers back to the position. This is a great way to end an answer to an interview question and keep yourself on track.

Here’s Why I’m Qualified

It’s not uncommon for interviewers to ask you to explain why you’re qualified for the position. Even if that exact question doesn’t come up, you’re often discussing your qualifications throughout the interview. The trick is to connect your unique skill set to the specific role and you can do that by talking about your hard and soft skills, as well as your transferable skills.

But if you find it difficult to work your qualifications into your answers, using these phrases can help you get unstuck:

  • My qualifications align with the job description (then explain how)
  • I have a lot of experience, such as (then give some examples)
  • This job fits in with my long-term career goals and career plan (then describe how)
  • I have a lot of related experience (then talk about your transferable skills)

Something About the Company

There’s a good chance the hiring manager will ask why you applied for the role. And, thanks to your pre-interview research, you can give a few reasons why you’re excited about the role and company.

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Beyond explaining why you applied for the job, there may be other opportunities to mention what you’ve learned about the company. For example, if the interviewer is asking about your weaknesses, you could mention that you have a knowledge gap around X and that you’re excited about the training the company offers, whether that’s within the role, company, or external education.

Let Me Tell You About a Time When

One of the best ways to help the interviewer understand why they should hire you is to explain how you’ll add value to the company. This is best done using the STAR method, where you tell a story that describes how you used your skills on the job and what the outcome was.

While you’ll use the STAR method to answer behavioral-based interview questions, you can also use it when you aren’t asked a behavioral-based question to illustrate why you’re the best person for the job.

For example, if the interviewer asks you what your greatest strength is, name the strength and then pivot to, “Let me tell you about a time when I used that strength.” 

Can You Clarify

Sometimes the interviewer asks a question that doesn’t make sense. It happens! Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to clarify the question. As long as you’re polite and respectful, asking for additional information about the question is OK.

Expert Tip

You don’t have to answer the question the second the interviewer stops speaking. It’s OK to pause for a moment to gather and organize your thoughts before answering.

What to Say in a Job Interview: Wrapping It Up

The interview is wrapping up, and whether you think you nailed it or not, here are a few things to say at the end of the job interview.

Ask a Few Good Questions

Whether they’re your prearranged questions or new ones that popped up during the interview, don’t let this chance to learn more about the position pass you by. If nothing else, the hiring manager expects you to ask a few questions, so use that to your advantage.

This is a great time to ask about the company (to show you’ve researched it and want to learn more) and gather more details about the role.

May I Have Your Contact Information, Please?

Sending a thank-you note after the interview is a critical part of the application process. However, you may not always have the interviewer’s contact information, especially if you meet with more than one person.

Try to ask for their contact information — specifically their email address — so you can send them a personalized thank-you note within 24-48 hours.

Thank You (Yes, Again!)

While you don’t want to overdo the gratitude, don’t skip a “thank you” at the very end of an interview. You can thank the hiring manager for meeting with you or explaining the role to you (or both!). But no matter what you thank them for, it will go a long way toward demonstrating that you’re a thoughtful job seeker.

Start to Finish

From the start of the interview to the very end (and even after!), knowing what to say in a job interview can help you make a lasting impression on the hiring manager and boost your confidence. And now that you know what to say, learn what not to say in a job interview.

For more guidance on the job application process, explore our Job Application Basics series below. This five-part series will show you how to increase your chances of getting hired. Start with the intro, then check out all five parts:

Image credit: Canva

Rachel Pelta is the Head Writer at Forage. Previously, she was a Content Specialist at FlexJobs, writing articles for job seekers and employers. Her work has been featured in Fast Company, The Ladders, MSN, and Money Talks News.

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