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Be articulate during interviews

Posted on 25th February 2016

If you've read up a lot on how to prepare for a job interview, you'll be aware that preparing in advance is crucial. You've got to know what to say and what key points you want to make beforehand. But how much attention do you pay to how you deliver this message?

Many of us stutter and stumble around our sentences - and this is almost inevitable if you're feeling slightly nervous and on edge during a job interview, so hiring managers will bear this in mind when they're making decisions.

But lots of people also routinely punctuate their sentences with, let's face it, meaningless fillers, such as "you know what I mean", "like" and "um". These are called fillers for a reason. They don't actually mean anything and the sentences would work just as well - and probably better - without them!

So relying on these too heavily when you're speaking can be very damaging in a job interview. It dents your credibility if you can't put together a sentence without resorting to insubstantial fillers every two seconds. After all, it makes it look you don't know what you're talking about and timid rather than decisive. 

Fillers don't make you sound like you really believe what you're saying and that you're talking with conviction. And these aren't going to be appealing qualities for a prospective employer, particularly if the position involves directing and being in charge of others.

Just imagine if you saw a politician giving a speech and they were going "er", "like" and "um" all the way through it. What would you think of them? That they're indecisive, unsure and lacking confidence and authority. This is exactly what an interview panel will think of you if you do the same!

We're not saying don't use fillers at all. They're a natural part of human speech. But you've got to keep a lid on how often they come out of your mouth. So if you regularly slip into this habit, what can you do to get out of it?

Think before you speak

Fillers often slip into language because we're making up every sentence as we go along - and it can be a useful way to get over a stumble and the fact you don't always know where you're going. So if you take a pause before starting a sentence or in the middle of it, you'll have time to actually think of what words you want to say next. You might worry that a slight pause makes you look like you're just thinking of what to say next. But if it is well timed, it can add impact to your previous statement and give the interview panel a moment to cogitate that before you move on to the following point.

Record yourself speaking

Nothing can make you more aware of how you sound to others than hearing a recording of yourself. So next time you're on the phone, record it and see how often you pepper your sentences with fillers. Being aware of the problem can be exactly what is needed to help you solve it.

Sound like you mean it

Another verbal faux pas in an interview can be making your voice constantly go up at the end of every sentence? As if it's a question? When it's not? Even in the written form, it sounds like we're questioning you when we're actually making a statement. So it can be infuriating to many when this happens in verbal conversations, partly because it means the speaker is seeking the approval or validation of others before committing to a point of view. You can't do this in an interview. You need to set out your stall and stick to it.

If you crack these problems successfully, you'll not only be better placed to ace an interview, but also succeed in other aspects of your life. Know what you stand for and understand who you are - so you can project this confidently and articulately!