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Sloppy Speech Habits Can Affect The Job Interview

   By: Diane DiResta

You may look good on paper but do you sound as good as your resume looks? Careless speech habits can keep you from getting that plum job.

Companies seek job candidates who are well-spoken and articulate And recruiters won't represent a job candidate if they don't match the client's profile.

According to Lori Zelman, Vice President of Human Resources at Strategic Workforce Solutions in New York City, “The people most highly sought after are the ones who are succinct in the explanation of their work experience.”'

Here are some of the biggest speech habits that can create a negative impression”

Non-words-Filler words such as “um,” “ah”, “you know”, “okay”, or” like”, tell the interviewer you are not prepared. A better strategy is to pause and breathe. Think before you speak. Everybody utters an occasional “um” but don't start every sentence with a non-word.

Uptalk –A singsong or rising inflection at the end of every sentence creates a tentative impression. It sounds as if the candidate is asking a question instead of making a statement. To speak with conviction, bring you intonation down at the end of a sentence.

Grammatical Errors-The interviewer may question your education level when you use incorrect grammar or slang. Expression such as “ain't “, “She don't,” “He should've went,” “ Me and my friend,” “So I goes to him,” are not appropriate for an interview. Be sure that you speak in complete sentences and that the tenses agree. The interview is not the venue for regionalisms of extreme informality.

Sloppy Speech-This is incorrect pronunciation as in the example “aks” for “ask”, “ath a lete”: for “athlete,” “wif” for “with” “dree” for “three. Slurring words together or dropping off the ending of words will impair the clarity of the message., To avoid slurring and to increase understanding, speak more slowly during an interview. Make a list of commonly mispronounced words and practice saying them into a tape recorder. before the interview.

Speed Talking-Speed talkers are perceived as nervous. While everybody feels a little anxiety during an interview, you don't want your information to fly by like a speeding bullet. A rapid speaking rate is difficult to follow. To avoid rushing, do some breathing exercises before the interview to slow down your racing heart. Listen to the question and count two beats in your head before answering. At the end of your sentence, count two beats again before continuing. Pausing is an effective communication technique. Don't be afraid of silence. The interviewer needs a few seconds to process what you just said.

Weak Speak-These are wimpy words that modify or water down your conviction. The end result is that it weaken your position. When a conversation is peppered with words like “hopefully,” “perhaps,:” I feel,”” I wish,” “I'll try,” “ if,” “kind of,” ”sort of, “ the message being conveyed is a lack of confidence. Take a stand by using power words such as “I'm confident that.,” “My track record shows,” “I take the position that,” “I recommend,” “My goal is..” The language you use gives the listener insight into your level of confidence and conviction.

You don't have to study elocution to speak well. Simply slow down, take time to pronounce all the syllables, and leave the slang at home

Copyright Diane DiResta 2005.

Diane DiResta, President of DiResta Communications, Inc. is an International speaker, coach, and author of Knockout Presentations: How to Deliver Your Message with Power, Punch, and Pizzazz. To subscribe to Impact Player, a free online newsletter visit

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