Um, ah, like, such as, obviously, you know – all known as ‘fillers’ or ‘verbal crutches’ are a great way to ruin your chances in an interview. They are called ‘fillers’ or ‘crutches’ because they don’t provide any content and only fill a space. As crutches, you lean on them for support, because you may be uncomfortable with the topic or scared of something. It could also signal to the interviewer that you are making up your answers. Not only are they annoying to listen to, but they undermine you in every way. They make you appear uneducated, ignorant and unable to string a couple of words together to form a coherent thought.
Don’t get me wrong, we all use them from time to time – that’s ok. I’m talking about overusing them. So how do you prevent yourself from doing it? The first step is awareness. Get a friend or family member to listen to you use the words when you speak.
What are the most common words you ‘lean’ on? Those are your crutches. You can even record or video yourself speaking. This is a great way to confirm what friends and family have said.
Once you are aware, then you can stop using them! Pause: take a moment to think about what you want to say before you say it and you will find your speech becomes more thoughtful and concise. This will help in the interview as you are asked to provide specific examples. Being able to provide examples without the um, ah, you know or like yeah will be a breath of fresh air for the interviewer. I’m willing to bet they just interviewed 3-4 people before you who all overused the fillers. This might even mean the difference between getting the job or not.
Put your best foot forward by starting with self-awareness and committing to making a change today. And most importantly, have fun marketing Brand You!