Leadership

Using this word too much could tank your job interview

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Scoring a job interview can be both exciting and nerve-wracking because it signifies that an employer is interested in potentially hiring you.

But job candidates should avoid one pronoun when interviewing, CEO of global payments platform Currencycloud Mike Laven tells CNBC Make It: they.

He says job candidates who refer to their current company as "they" or "them" rather than "we" or "us" are a red flag. That language suggests the job seeker may not end up being an engaged employee, which is especially important for people applying to jobs at startups.

"Employers wants to hire people who internalize the mission and vision of the company," he says. "You want people who understand what the company is about and where it's going."

The pronoun you use can show your level of engagement

Although skills and prior work experience are important in scoring a new job, how prospective employees identify with the mission of their current company is much more impactful, says Laven.

He adds that employers listen to how job candidates describe what they've been doing. "Do they look it as as 'we' or put emotional distance between themselves [and past work]?" he says.

Avoiding the word 'they' is most important for senior positions

The pronouns job applicants use are even more significant for senior level positions because managers are expected to embody the vision of the company, and keep employees engaged, says Laven.

For senior positions, saying "this was their policy is very different from saying this was what we did," according to Laven. He notes that employers pick up on that nuance: "It's a very different way of thinking and shows how engaged you are."

Employee engagement is necessary for a company to succeed

When working at a new company, employees roles are constantly shifting. Workers must be willing to learn all the time and deal with different pressures and limited resources.

Employee engagement becomes especially important at startups because there are "very few employees and there's an immense amount of work to be done," he says.

"You have to take on the role of customer service, IT and tech development, find new clients... and you have a fixed amount of money to do it with," Laven says. "This can only be done by having engaged employees."

To stand out in an interview, Laven suggests doing this: "Show what you learned from the last employer. Show your level of engagement. And show how that will affect what you do at this job."

And, of course, avoid saying "they."

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