[adapted from recruitersconnection.com]
On February 5th, right after the Super Bowl, the new season of the TV show The Voice debuted. While you may not be a huge fan of yet another televised singing competition, the show’s concept could help you on your career path. We talk a lot about first impressions: your smile, your manner of dress, or your handshake. But in a phone interview, what would an interviewer think of just your voice?
Conclusions about your employability can be drawn from the way that you speak. Whether those conclusions are right or wrong, your spoken expression matters a great deal in a job interview. For example, the exaggerated nasal whine of Fran Drescher may have won her fame on The Nanny, but to an employer, listening to such a voice may conjure up the sensation of chewing tin foil. Listen to your voice and analyze how you sound. If you find it difficult to be honest with yourself, then ask someone you trust to provide you with honest feedback.
- Rate or speed. The rate at which you speak is very important. If you talk too fast, then you may come across as nervous, impulsive, disorganized, immature, or even flighty. However, if you talk too slowly, then you may be perceived as unintelligent, unable to keep up with a fast-paced environment, or lacking overall confidence. Speaking too slowly can also be perceived as a sign of dishonesty.
Try to reach a balance between the two extremes. Speak clearly, distinctly, thoughtfully. Concentrate on pronouncing each syllable that is meant to be stated. By keeping your speech at a medium pace, you are able to get your thoughts across more clearly. To check your speech, watch yourself in front of a mirror or record yourself speaking.
- Pitch. High-pitched voices tend to be the most annoying. While über-treble voices are typically associated with women, many men also speak at a high pitch. Part of lowering your pitch involves relaxing your speech, which is often easier said than done. You must also learn to control any nervousness, which is hard to do in an interview situation.
- Volume. Remember the “low talker” on Seinfeld? Her failure to speak up led to a misunderstanding and to major embarrassment for Jerry. In addition, the too-soft voice can be perceived as a sign of low self-confidence, fearfulness, or self-consciousness. A voice that is on the loud side is annoying and can sometimes indicate a feeling of superiority. What you want to strive for is a happy medium whenever you are in a professional situation.
- Verbal crutches. Watch out for your filler words. The two most often abused crutches are “uh” and “ah.” These little space-fillers usually go unnoticed by the speaker but stand out to an interviewer.
- Slang words. While most commonly used among teenagers, slang words are also common with adults who are unaware that they use them. Some examples include you know, like, no way, ‘cuz, yeah, for real, and for sure. While they seem funny listed this way, your using these words in an interview can cause an employer to choose another applicant.
Be aware of your voice. Analyze it. Practice and speak confidently. If The Voice has demonstrated anything worth noting, it is that the golden voice is the one that advances to the next round.