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In a Manner of Speaking: Speech Traps to Avoid During an Interview



When preparing for an interview, you likely put plenty of thought into what you will say. However, if you fail to consider how you will say it, you could be making a negative impression with your diction. Here are three verbal habits to avoid:

1. Vocalized pauses. Apprehension often manifests itself in the form of “um” or “ah.” Such verbal fillers can make you appear less intelligent. It is perfectly acceptable to take a moment to consider a question, but do so silently. While you want to eliminate vocalized pauses, there is one form of nonverbal communication you can integrate: a smile. Don’t just cut out vocal pauses, but replace them with eye contact and a smile as appropriate.

2. Repeated phrases. We all have words or phrases we use more than others. When you’re nervous, your tendency to insert these terms as fillers only increases. You don’t want to be remembered as the candidate that said “really” every other word. By varying your choice of words, you will come across as articulate and polished.

3. Speed speech. When in a high-pressure environment, many people find their heart racing and their rate of speaking following suit. Make a conscious effort to take deep breaths and s l o w d o w n. When you relax, you can better engage with your interviewers and forge a connection.

How can you identify which of these speech traps you might fall into? A mock interview is one of the best ways to pin-point your problem areas. Enlist a trusted colleague and ask them to note any unhelpful and unprofessional speech patterns throughout the mock interview. With their insight, you’ll be better equipped to present yourself well to your future employer. Additional to a mock interview, you might consider simply recording yourself answering the questions that you assume will be asked with your smartphone. Review the recording for a great look at how you come across and add a little finesse to smooth things out. Practice makes perfect.