5 Phrases to Stay Away From in Job Interviews



Kimberly Schneiderman, NCRW, CLTMC, CEIC
Owner, City Career Services

Have you ever given thought to the little phrases you use, probably out of habit? Well, I do. If you have ever had a one-on-one coaching session in the Career Connection with me at the ACFE conferences, you know that I will often stop you to point out ineffective language you are using or language that you can use to come across more confidently.

In my last blog post, I gave several ideas for scripts you can use in your job search. In this post, I will demonstrate some of the ineffective phrases I hear and will propose alternative language to help you communicate in a positive way. Ready? Here we go:

  1. “No problem” This seemingly innocuous phrase is supposed to tell someone you are happy to take on a task or project. The problem is, it can be negative. Sometimes, it can even come across as dismissive. Instead, try, “Yes, I’m happy to do that.” And, try not use, “No problem” in place of, “You’re welcome” when someone says, “Thank you.”
  2. “If I have to do that as part of my job, it’s OK.” This phrase always reminds me of a scene from the sitcom Friends, when Monica’s boyfriend Richard (Tom Selleck) uses a similar phrase when he agrees to “have children if he has to” so they can get married. You see how it comes across negatively and resistant to what is actually being requested? Instead, try a more positive statement, “Yes, I understand I will travel a good deal if hired for this position and am ready for it.”
  3. “I’m looking for a new challenge.” The idea of wanting to be challenged at work is one we are quite familiar with; sometimes a similar phrase is even used in job advertisements to tell applicants that they will be learning new skills. The problem is that when you (the job seeker) use the phrase, you are basically asking someone to pay you to learn something you have no idea how to do. A better strategy is to point to ways that your skillset aligns directly with the requirements.
  4. “I think…I believe…I feel.” These three introductory phrases are rife with problems. They are soft; each one makes you sound unconfident and non-committal. I coach my clients to attach strong, concrete language to their messages. Which sounds better to you: “I feel like my experience is a good match” or “I can see that my 10 years’ experience in IT security and internal investigations is a direct match for the primary needs of this organization.”
  5. “I’m open to anything really.” When a job seeker uses this phrase, it translates directly to “I have no idea what I want to do with my career, could you please tell me?” Most people that use the phrase actually do have an idea of what they want, they just need help saying it. Try something like this: “My ideal position will include elements of global fraud investigations, risk management program development and anti-counterfeiting initiatives.” By naming a few things that you do want, the person understands that you are ‘open’ to options within a defined window and that you have clear direction in your career.

Notice that I am not encouraging you to be arrogant or stuffy, just clear about what you can actually do for a company and what you will be particularly successful with in the job. By ensuring your word choice conveys competence, confidence and motivation, you will come across as the candidate that a prospective employer truly needs in their organization.

Try these ideas in your search and let me know how they turn out at the Career Connection at this year’s ACFE Global Fraud Conference, June 14-19, 2015.

The Top 3 Fears that Paralyze Fraud Prevention


Tasha Bailey, CFE

As a senior risk vendor analyst, I've primarily worked with companies that bring in annual revenues of $5 billion or more, and I've seen the full range of attempts to address fraud within the purchasing-to-accounts-payable cycle. Often, the company doesn't put a robust process in place until it's in the news with a violation, an FCPA incident or an internal case of undetected embezzlement that might have gone on for years. But why? As money walks out the door, why wouldn't companies adopt a more proactive stance for early detection?

The answer is fear. Fear can prevent a mom-and-pop shop or a Fortune 500 industry leader from becoming serious about fighting fraud. Business analytics and portal systems certainly enable companies to more quickly mine through volumes of data and identify red flags, yet they're not a requirement for fraud prevention. Depending on the size of the company, it can data mine and detect fraud early with such basic tools as Microsoft Access and Excel. And while companies pay lip service to efforts to fight fraud, they're often slow to take advantage of even these most elementary methods. Let's consider how the fear factor plays into the decision — or indecision — to fight fraud.

Fear No. 1: Cost. Like health or car insurance, fraud prevention software is a cost for which you don't always recognize an immediate return. Management wants money brought back to the bottom line, and it's easy to assign a dollar figure to payment errors using platforms like duplicate invoice analysis. But when it comes to identifying and preventing risk and potential fraud, returns can be harder to quantify.

I often hear concerns about spending money on a system that might or might not identify fraud. And if the system does identify fraudulent activity, companies are now obligated to spend more for the additional investigation and possible litigation. Larger companies might see money lost to fraud as "pennies," but pennies add up. That's money that could have been reinvested toward a company's bottom line.

Fear No. 2: Technology. Companies are concerned that implementing new software technology might increase their exposure to fraud via data breaches. They're also concerned that technology will replace internal auditors. While data encryption and similar tools can combat the risk of data breaches, addressing personnel concerns are trickier.

When I work with companies, I point out that technology in any form is a means to assist — not replace — people. Computers alone don't "discover" fraud; they simply detect red flags that can point you in the right direction. The red flag could be a simple data-entry error or an anomaly within the data. Technology helps identify red flags, but human input and investigation is required to determine if fraud is indeed occurring. From there, companies must ask questions.

Fear No. 3: Loss of reputation. Companies might fear their reputations will take a hit if they uncover ongoing fraud schemes. Social media has evolved to become an incredibly popular form of information sharing, so all it takes is the hint of a rumor and the damage is done. Employees might post information — or alleged information — that makes it appear as though a company is attempting to hide something. For that reason, it's to a company's advantage to be open with their employees in their effort to fight fraud. Employees are less likely to whistleblow in public when there are safe, internal options for them to report discrepancies to management. For example, use proactive social risk-management strategies, such as toll-free hotlines, to help employees feel comfortable reporting potential or suspected frauds without the fear of retaliation.

Passive detection methods aren't enough anymore. It's been proven time and again that instilling proactive efforts to discover or reduce fraud will increase the bottom line and enhance a company's reputation.

Read more from Tasha, and find out the best practices for engaging analytic tools and front-line staff to identify and prevent fraud on Fraud-Magazine.com.

How We Innocently Give Away Our Data


Zach Capers, CFE
ACFE Research Specialist

Recently, I attended the ID360 conference in Austin, which was presented by the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Identity. The theme of the conference was “The Identity Economy” with speakers focusing on such topics as personal identity management, social media and online security. The discussions of these interrelated topics made me consider the ways I leverage my own identity in the emerging identity economy, and — more concerning — how my identity is used by others.

Identity is now a form of currency, and the consequences of this development are unfolding in interesting and often unpredictable ways. As a music lover living in Austin, I have noticed during the past few years how the identity economy is developing in the realm of live music and event ticketing. For example, during the recent South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, I found myself shamelessly tweeting about the Mazda car company for a chance to win passes to an event I wanted to attend. Despite how obnoxious my shilling must have seemed to others on my Twitter feed, I felt it was worth it, particularly because I ended up winning the passes.

The identity economy was apparent in other aspects of SXSW as well. This year, an increasing number of events required that prospective attendees register through their Facebook accounts. This meant that attendees had to open their Facebook pages to applications that often collect and share personal information for marketing and other purposes. I found this too much to bear, so I avoided events that required compromising my Facebook account; however, countless other festival-goers likely did so without questioning the practice of providing access to their personal information in exchange for access to an event.

Another facet of the identity economy is the phenomenon of developing a user reputation to enhance standing within a particular user base. For example, the ticketing firm 1iota provides free tickets to television shows and concerts based largely on reputation. If you sign up for an event, win tickets and subsequently follow through with attending the event, your chances of winning tickets to the next show increase. Conversely, if you win tickets and fail to attend the show, your chances of receiving tickets in the future plummet. The idea is that those who build a strong reputation on the site tend to be more enthusiastic and dependable fans whom organizers prefer to have at their events. Reputation systems have been in use for many years with websites such as eBay and LinkedIn, and they will only increase in number and variety going forward.

At last month’s Coachella music festival in Indio, California, the identity economy was also in full swing. All ticket buyers were required to wear a wristband containing a registered radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip, and all wristbands had to be activated with the individual’s personal information, with the option to connect the wristband to a Facebook or Spotify account. No doubt much of this information was collected for demographic research and subsequent marketing efforts. However, the RFID technology was also used to streamline entry, reduce fraud in the secondary market and track the movement of individuals inside the festival grounds to maximize logistical efficiency. Another result is that individuals can no longer attend America’s most popular and profitable music festival anonymously.

While many of these uses of identity might seem relatively innocuous, we must always question how much of our identity we are willing to trade for convenience. Our evolving — or devolving — concepts of privacy and identity are fundamentally changing not only commerce, but also the strategies through which companies and criminals exploit our personal information for profit. At the ID360 conference, the University of Texas announced a Master of Science in Identity Management and Security degree program; the first of its kind in the nation. Perhaps a new generation of identity experts will help guide us through the burgeoning convergence of our identities and the economy.