70 Recruitment Clichés That (Really) Should Be Banished

"A real people-person..." "With a good sense of humour..." "Capable of working in a fast-paced environment..." These are just three of the most awful clichés used by cheesy recruiters and candidates. Are you one of them?

June 21, 2023

This week, I created an infographic revealing the 10 most irritating clichés that we see written on CVs and application forms, time and time again.

And as the week went on, more and more examples kept popping into my head.

So I started jotting them down… and then, this blog post happened.

Behold! 70 of the worst, most overused recruitment clichés of all time!

(Recognise any of these? Get ready to cringe).

Candidate Interview Clichés

I know, interviews are dead nerve-wracking, but do try to be a little bit more original with your answers…

Cliché 1:              “I’m a perfectionist”

Cliché 2:              “I work too hard”

Cliché 3:             “I can adapt to anything – honestly, I’ll do anything”

Cliché 4:              “I love working with people - I’m a real people-person”

Cliché 5:              “What’s your favourite thing about working here?”

Cliché 6:              “I’m perfect for this job”

Cliché 7:              “I’m a natural born leader.”

Cliché 8:              “I think outside the box”

Cliché 9:              “I love my job but…”

Cliché 10:            "My biggest strength is my creativity”

Ok - so these interview answers aren't the worst ones we've ever heard... click here to check out those.

CV Clichés

The same goes for your CV! Without supporting evidence, the following phrases mean nothing…

Cliché 11:            “Strong work ethic”

Cliché 12:            “I’m a team player!”

Cliché 13:            “I always focus on the bottom line”

Cliché 14:            “Self-motivated”

Cliché 15:            “with great communication skills”

Cliché 16:            “Detail-oriented” (Grammatically incorrect “detail-orientated” is even worse!)

Cliché 17:            “I have a proven track record”

Cliché 18:            “I like socialising with my friends”

Cliché 19:            “I like reading.”

Cliché 20:            “I’m truly passionate about”

Again, these are bad... but they certainly don't beat the 99 most hilarious CV snippets in this blog post.

Job Advert Clichés:

You may have notice that this section is the longest one in our blog - and that’s because there are just SO many bloomin’ job advert clichés out there!

Cliché 21:            “Duties may vary”

Cliché 22:            “All we ask from you is…”

Cliché 23:            “Good leadership skills desired”

Cliché 24:            “Great organisational skills”

Cliché 25:            “Excellent interpersonal skills”

Cliché 26:            “Happy to work in a fast-paced environment”

Cliché 27:            “The ability to multitask”

Cliché 28:            “Good communication skills”

Cliché 29:            “Passionate and enthusiastic”

Cliché 30:            “Are you proactive?”

Cliché 31:            “Are you dynamic?”

Cliché 32:            “Hard-working”

Cliché 33:            “We need a self-starter”

Cliché 34:            “A fast learner”

Cliché 35:            “Entrepreneurial spirit"

Cliché 36:            “Good sense of humour”

Cliché 37:             “Great company culture”

Cliché 38:            “Fantastic track record”

Cliché 39:            “You’ll be joining a fun, vibrant team”

Cliché 40:            “Our mission is to {some ethical, friendly cause…}”

Want to know what all of these really mean? Check out this blog translating them all for you.

Job Title Clichés:

Worse still, some recruiters feel the need to come up with ‘quirky’ and now completely cliché job titles to jazz up their adverts…

Cliché 41:              Marketing GURU!

Cliché 42:              Design NINJA!

Cliché 43:              Brand EVANGELIST!

Cliché 44:               IT ROCKSTAR

Cliché 45:               Sales SUPERHERO!

Cliché 46:               HR MAGICIAN!

Cliché 47:               Social Media TRAILBLAZER!

Cliché 48:               Digital DYNAMO!

Cliché 49:               Retail JEDI!

Cliché 50:               Direct Mail DEMI GOD!

Would you apply for these jobs?

Click here to check out some more weird and wonderful job titles!

Interview Question Clichés

And of course, the 10 most common and predictable interview questions you could ever ask (or get asked yourself) SNORE!

Cliché 51:            “What’s your greatest weakness?”

Cliché 52:            “What’s your greatest strength?”

Cliché 53:            “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

Cliché 54:            “Tell me about a time when you resolved a conflict at work.”

Cliché 55:            “What do you know about the company?”

Cliché 56:            “Why should we hire you?”

Cliché 57:            “Tell me a little bit about yourself.”

Cliché 58:            “Have you got any questions for me?”

Cliché 59:            “Ever worked as part of a team?”

Cliché 60:            “How would your best friend describe you?”

Click here to check out some great alternatives!

OR if you’re attending interviews soon, click here to make sure you’re prepared.

“Unique” Interview Question Clichés

Of course, because the above interview questions became so boring and predictable, interviewers turned to trick questions and brainteasers to jazz things up a bit.

But alas, adopted by companies across the world, some of these, themselves, have become clichés!

Cliché 61:            “Who would win in a fight superman or batman?”

Cliché 62:            “How would you test a calculator?”

Cliché 63:            “How many calories are there in a supermarket?”

Cliché 64:            “How would you explain the internet to someone who’d never heard of it?”

Cliché 65:            “What cartoon character/cereal/ superhero would you be and why?”

Cliché 66:            “How many tennis balls could you fit in Wimbledon?”

Cliché 67:            “How do you know if the light inside the fridge is on or off?”

Cliché 68:            “How many potatoes (in kg) does McDonald’s sell in a year in the UK?”

Cliché 69:            “How many square feet of pizza are eaten in the UK every year?”

Cliché 70:

Sorry, but if people don’t know how the get that bloomin’ farmer, chicken, corn and fox across the river by now, they never will!

“A farmer needs to cross the river with his chicken, a sack of corn and a fox.  His boat unfortunately only fits himself and one other thing.  The fox and chicken are hungry, so if he leaves the fox with the chicken, the chicken will get eaten, whilst if he leaves the chicken with the corn, the corn will get eaten.  How will the man get safely across with all 3?”

To read more “quirky” interview brainteasers – click here.

Guilty as charged?

Are you, or have you used any of the recruitment clichés we’ve mentioned above? STOP!

Recruiter Pro Tip  You’re probably thinking: well if everyone does it, candidates and employers, what’s the problem? We all get the picture.  And you’re right. Using the clichés above isn’t going to kill off your job search or recruitment drive completely.  But it won’t help you to stand out in a crowd, either. Employer or employee, if you want to be truly memorable, you need to ditch the predictability.

Happy Friday!

Coburg Banks - Multi-Sector Recruitment Agency
We help great people get brilliant jobs in top companies.