How you sound has a considerable impact on your success at interview. We have all been given a unique voice but we need to be aware that how we express ourselves verbally in our daily lives may need tweaking in an interview setting. Try recording yourself speaking about your work experience for example and play it back. Do this several times and mark down areas for improvement. We all HATE listening to our own voices but it’s an effective way to gauge how your voice might be perceived by an interviewer. Ask a close friend or colleague for their opinion also.

  • Take your time. This is not a race. After a question is posed, take a breath and pause before answering. Not only will this ensure that the interviewer has finished their question, it will also give you time to consider your response without rushing in.
  • You should vary your pitch and tone to avoid speaking in a monotone which conveys an impression of apathy and a lack of enthusiasm. Be careful not to be overly animated though as this comes across as being hyper-excitable and overly emotional! The key is to strike a balance.
  • Your interviewer is assessing your suitability to a particular vacancy. This doesn’t mean they are to be considered your superior in the interview setting. You should treat the interviewer as an equal. Don’t let your voice sound like you’re intimidated or apologetic. Equally demonstrate respect and decorum at all times in your use of language.

A calm, consistent, focussed approach to an interview is generally the best approach. You want to display a sense of personality without coming across as intense.

Bad Speech Habits at Interview

Nerves can get the better of us all which can result in the use of adverse speech trends or sometimes you might think you are going to “walk the interview” and adopt an overly casual approach.

The following are some key points on the use of bad speech habits at interview.

Non-words: Filler words such as “um,” “ah,” “you know”, “OK” or “like” tell the interviewer you’re not prepared. Again, taking your time here is key. Breath, take a moment and gather your thoughts. You will be surprised how you can suddenly get clarity and articulate yourself effectively.

Strong Words: “I have proven that”, “I know that”, “I’m confident that”, “my results show that”. This kind of wording conveys self-confidence and gives the impression that you really believe you can deliver. “Kind of”, “sort of”, “hopefully”, “maybe” “a bit” all portray a weak demeanour and someone who is lacking in confidence in their abilities.

“Up-talk”: Bring your intonation down when ending a sentence to avoid “talking up”. The interview setting is a serious one and ending every sentence with a rising inflection sounds as though you are asking a question instead of answering it with conviction.

Rapid Speech: Speaking too quickly in an interview conveys that you are nervous. A certain level of anxiety is expected at interview and your interviewer knows this but try to maintain a calm disposition and speak at a normal pace. Don’t be afraid of silence. Pausing is an effective communication technique. Rushing your speech is likely to fluster the interviewer also so they will appreciate a slower more focussed approach from the candidate.

Grammatical Errors: Use of incorrect grammar can lead the interviewer to make an assumption that you are not well educated. It is very important to articulate yourself properly. Be sure you speak in complete sentences and that tenses agree. “I done” instead of I did and I goes to him instead of I said to him are examples of how NOT to speak at interview! Also be mindful not to use unnecessarily elaborate language either which can give the impression that you are perhaps a bit pretentious!

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