Navigating Industry Lingo in an Interview

May 10, 2017

 

Prof

 

essionals are addicted to jargon. Everyone uses acronyms and institutionally specific lingo. This can present a challenge in an interview. On one hand, if you ask, you might seem incompetent or uninvolved. On the other hand, faking it can get you into trouble. When should you seek clarity when someone uses insider terminology? Here are three tips to keep you from being sidelined by jargon:

 

  1. Do your research. There is no shortcut for due diligence. Read about the company. Familiarize yourself with their current initiatives. Know the trade organizations. This is particularly key if you are looking to change industries.
     

  2. Use context clues. While you may not know the specific acronym or term an individual uses, it may be clear what they are talking about. It’s not always necessary to know the particulars to understand their point.
     

  3. Ask for clarification strategically. Recognize when you’ve missed something important.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions when necessary. Ask with confidence and specificity: “Can you tell me exactly what you mean by E.S.T.A.T?” Is much better than, “I don’t know what that means.”

 

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