Moving on swiftly from distressing things interviewers can do to job candidates what about the reverse, those things candidates do which most alienate the prospective employer?

For the really committed recruiter, this process of irritation can begin well before you go to the trouble of actually meeting the candidate, on receipt of the CV.  Of course spelling and grammatical errors can make your teeth grate, but LinkedIn has now released a study of those words in a CV which, even spelt correctly, are most off-putting to would-be employers.

Top-four in descending order of acceptability are “driven”, “passionate”, “creative” and (worst of all, apparently) “motivated”.  The basic problem here appears to be that they are all either blindingly obvious or silly hyperbole and that their inclusion will therefore add a small but unmistakeably jarring note to the proceedings.

You can tell me on a CV or in an interview that you are “motivated”, but is that not really to be assumed from the fact of your applying for the job?  After all, the word means no more than that you have a reason for making the application.  This could still cover everything from your facing dismissal if you stay where you are, or your wanting more money, to the theoretical possibility (but negligible probability) of your actually being interested in this specific role in this specific company above all others.  “Driven” is just the same but adding a faintly unattractive whiff of desperation.  And am I going to believe that you are “creative” just because you say you are, especially given that you have not been able to think of a more original attribute to major on than anyone else?  Commentators on the survey suggest that the wise candidate will not just assert these things but provide concrete examples instead.

As for “passionate”, who using the word properly is actually passionate about a job?  My on-line thesaurus gives as alternatives for “passionate” a Fifty Shades-like choice between ardent, amorous, aroused, desirous, hot, lascivious, libidinous, lustful, steamy, stimulated and wanton.  If that is genuinely how you feel about the prospect of working for me, there has clearly been a dreadful misunderstanding somewhere.  If the candidate uses “passionate” about his job, what words does he have left to describe his feelings for friends, partners and family, health and happiness and other things that really matter?

These phrases may just be a function of a tough job market and the consequent temptation into a form of adjectival arms-race.  However, they are also an insight into your job candidate just like any other part of the CV or the interview.  This may or may not affect the candidate’s actual ability to do the job, but the LinkedIn survey suggests that, as with the recent interviewee at this firm who prefaced every answer with “If I am being honest …” (as opposed to what?), the involuntary grinding of teeth occasioned by such clichés is clearly reason enough to discount his candidature anyway.   This is not being petty or trivial.  It is a reasoned extrapolation from the applicant being irritating on paper to the probability of his being equally irksome in person.  It may well be that others wouldn’t notice, or would flinch inwardly but be carried along anyway, but that does not make written or oral tics of this sort something you have to live with.  Courage – you are not alone.