Speech Habits to Avoid at a Job Interview


Many employers evaluate your communication skills during the interview. In practical terms, this means that how you speak matters as much as what you say. Poor speech habits, such as mumbling or racing through your replies, can eliminate you from consideration for a position, and for good reason. An employee who communicates poorly can cost a business heavily if their miscues lead to mistakes or misunderstandings. With that in mind, pay attention to how you’re speaking while interviewing, and watch for the following:

– Speaking too quickly. Anxiety during an interview can cause you to speak quickly, which may make you appear nervous and make it hard for the interviewer to focus on what you’re saying. Avoid rushed speech by slowing your breathing before the interview and counting two beats before you answer a question or move from one sentence to another. Don’t be afraid of silence. It gives the interviewer time to think about your responses.

– Using filler words. A lot of people fill gaps with little words or phrases such as “like” or “you know.” Filler words like “ah” and “um” are used to the same effect. Do your best to eliminate those words from your speech and use short periods of silence to compose your thoughts. If you do use the occasional filler word, don’t freeze up or panic. Almost everyone uses them sometimes.

– Ending words and sentences at a higher pitch. Sometimes called “up-talk,” this method of speaking can make it sound as if every statement is a question and lead to the impression that you don’t feel confident in your answers. If you often fall into this speech pattern often, practice speaking with a deep, confident tone until it feels natural.

– Equivocating. Using words to qualify your statements also makes you sound less confident. Phrases like “kind
of,” “hopefully,” and “I feel” damage the confident impression you want to create, so do your best to avoid them.


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