You finally received a call for a potential position that sounds perfect. Preparing, you make several crisp copies of your résumé, check the route to the office, clean your car, get your favorite interview outfit from the cleaners, and dress yourself appropriately. You’ve spent hours researching the company, understanding the position and getting a solid sense of how your talents could positively contribute to the organization.
Arriving 10 minutes early, you smile at the receptionist and wait patiently to meet with Mr. X, making sure that you know how to pronounce his name in advance. Cell phone off? Check. Carrying case with personal marketing materials, pen, and paper? Check. Breath mint? Check. Last glance in the mirror… nothing between teeth, zippers zipped, blouse closed? Check, check, check.
Accepting Mr. X’s handshake and welcome, you follow him into his office and take his lead for the interview. One hour later, you leave, feeling that you have answered all of his questions and certain that you are qualified, you eagerly await his call for an offer. But, the offer never comes. In fact, the phone never rings and your follow up thank you goes unanswered. You are perplexed. WHY?
Perhaps, it’s time to PRACTICE your interviewing skills. Have you listened to yourself speak lately? If not, then it’s time. Poor speaking habits may be the difference between winning or losing in this difficult job-search game. It’s time to listen to yourself. Record a telephone conversation and start counting the “filler words”. Filler words are words used to fill in the gaps/pauses in our speech. Examples include: “you know”, “like”, “so”, and “um”. How many do you use when you speak? What’s the danger? I recently attended a conference and within a 12 minute period, one of the speakers said “um” 72 times. (I just started checking them off to keep myself awake!) That’s 6 “ums” per minute! I still have no idea what he was saying, because I was so distracted by counting the “ums”.
If your communication in an interview is flawed with careless, distracting speaking habits, how can the potential employer feel comfortable that you will communicate well with clients, colleagues, executives and stakeholders?
Enhancing your speaking skills, eliminating filler words, and using appropriate body language/eye contact will boost your chances to land the job.
– Recognize your personal speaking habits and then rectify them.
– If you use filler words, know when you tend to use them.
– A silent pause to think of your answer is better than an “um”. It’s also o.k. to say, “I’d like to think about that for a moment before answering.”
By Michelle A. Riklan, CPRW, CEIC