No matter how polished your resume is, no matter how sharply you dress, no matter how well you rehearse the answers to questions you know you'll be asked, there is one detail that can totally kill your chances, even if you're the best candidate for the job.
What is it that might keep you from nailing your big interview? Well, um, it's sort of, you know, obvious, if you get my drift, to a lotta people...the speech!
But to win over a potential employer, the most important thing to spend time on, is concentrating on the best way to present yourself verbally. Careless speech habits can easily kill your chances, particularly if it makes you come off as being too casual, too immature, or just plain ignorant.
For some jobs it may not matter, but for most professional jobs, crystal clear communication abilities are important. There are a few cardinal rules to follow when speaking with an interviewer.
Slow down. Although you may be anxious and nervous, you don't want the interviewer to know that. Speaking slowly and deliberately shows that you are confident and calm, and gives the person on the other side of the desk, the chance to absorb what you're saying.
Keep the conversation warm and open, with a friendly feeling. When asked a question, wait a moment before answering. After you've completely answered a question, stop talking. Pausing is an effective technique for communicating clearly, and it gives your interviewer a few seconds to process the answer you've just given.
Speak with conviction. To portray yourself as the ideal candidate for any job, be sure to use language that shows you are confident and capable. Don't fill your answers with phrases such as "maybe," "perhaps," "sort of," or "hopefully." Avoid such words like plague.
Another point to note is that, avoid saying anything about things you "could have" or "should have" done. Use strong, powerful words such as "I'm confident that," "my goal is," or "you can see from my track record," or "even "I recommend." Don't use a tentative, questioning tone; speak as though you are the star attraction, and sell yourself convincingly.
Make every word count. Don't pepper your conversation with meaningless filler words such as "uh," "you know," "ah," "okay," or - especially important - "like." Using casual non-words such as these, tell the interviewer that you are not mature and professional enough for the job.
Especially in positions that will involve talking to people, be sure that you don't sound like a teeny bopper. Think before you speak. It may be impossible to keep from uttering the occasional "um," as you gather your thoughts, but don't start every sentence that way, and keep the non-words to an absolute minimum.
Don't be a speech slob. The most important thing to remember in an interview is that, there is no excuse for using sloppy speech. Again, speak slowly and don't slur words together, and don't drop the endings of sentences, or let words fade off as you finish speaking.
Using incorrect grammar or slang will make an interviewer question your education or, worse, your intelligence. Expressions such as "ain't" or "me an him" are never appropriate. Be sure to use correct tenses, and avoid regional expressions or informal language.
You may look good on paper and you may look fantastic in person, but nailing an interview depends almost exclusively on how you portray yourself the moment you open your mouth. Employers want to hire people who are well-spoken and articulate.
Careless speech habits can kill an interview in just a sentence or two. So don't sabotage yourself by using sloppy words; instead, take care to use polished and accurate language, that will get you the job you want, and deserve.