How to Speak in an Interview


During a job interview, the employer isn’t just considering your skills and qualifications -- she’s also evaluating how you present yourself. If you’re well-spoken, confident and poised, she’s more likely to see you as a competent and likeable professional. On the other hand, if you struggle with your answers or don’t seem articulate, she may doubt your ability to successfully apply your knowledge and training to the day-to-day demands of the job.

Eliminate Filler Words

  • Many people use words like “um,” “so” and “like” when they’re gathering their thoughts or when they don't know what to say. While this can buy you some time, it also hurts your credibility by suggesting you’re unsure of yourself. Many people don’t realize how often they do this, making it difficult to break the habit. However, purging these words from your vocabulary is critical during a job interview. Speech language pathologist Jayne Latz recommends using no more than two filler words for every two minutes of talking.

Speak With Confidence

  • Applicants sometimes let their nerves get the better of them. Even if they try to hide it using strong body language and steady eye contact, they sometimes reveal themselves through their voices. For example, many people inadvertently slip into “upspeak,” where their voices rise at the end of the sentence similar to how you would end a question. If you do this when making a statement, such as replying to one of the interviewer’s questions, she might interpret this as uncertainty. Remind yourself to bring your voice down at the end of a sentence so you speak authoritatively.

Be Concise

  • Get to the point as quickly as possible when responding to the interviewer’s questions. Time is often of the essence for employers, because they may have dozens of candidates to meet in a short period of time. Stay focused and cover only what the interviewer asked, without adding extraneous details. If she needs more information she’ll ask follow-up questions. Also, reply with the shortest but most thorough answer you can. If you ramble, you might come across as unsure. Research commonly asked interview questions and practice your replies so you can be succinct.

Speak Correctly

  • In everyday conversation, people don’t always follow grammar rules and don’t always enunciate their words clearly. When meeting a potential employer, however, you want to convey that you’re intelligent and a good communicator. Speak in complete sentences and don’t use slang or jargon the employer might not understand. Also, enunciate every syllable and look up the pronunciation for words you aren’t sure of. Speak slowly to avoid running words together and be sure to hit every consonant and vowel so your meaning is clear.

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