How to Avoid Saying "Um" and "Like" During Your Important Interview

by Catherine Alford

Interview Bad Habits

When we’re chatting with our friends, it’s really easy to drop the occasional “um” or “like.” However, when we go to an important interview, we want to put our best foot forward. This means avoiding casual language and showcasing how qualified we are for the job. However, old habits die hard, and this one is especially difficult (but not impossible!) to break. If you want to speak seamlessly in your next interview, try the tips below.

Practice In Front of a Mirror

It might feel silly, but practicing your interview answers in front of a mirror can really help you to realize how often you use casual language. You can also take an extra step and video yourself. If that doesn’t work, ask your friend or spouse to give you a mock interview. Practice makes perfect!

Get Accountability

If you want to break a habit, especially one that involves patterns of speech, the best thing you can do is tell a friend. Just think, if a friend made you give him or her a dollar for every time you used the word “like” in conversation, you would stop pretty quickly!

Watch Videos for Inspiration

Some people are just exceptional speakers, and they can serve as great inspiration. Many actors give seamless interviews. Similarly, people like Ivanka Trump who have been educated at some of the best schools in the country rarely make mistakes when giving comments or interviews. A typical YouTube search can also reveal other videos on interviewing tips.

Read Regularly

Challenging yourself to read difficult material will undoubtedly expand your vocabulary and allow you to become a more engaging speaker. Many of us have pauses in conversation using words like “um” because we can’t think of the word we actually want to say. Reading regularly can help us to learn a significant amount of new vocabulary so we don’t have any trouble “grabbing them” from our memory banks!

Think Before You Speak

One trick that pageant contestants use during their interview portion of competitions is restating the question in their answers. This gives them time to think of the answer as they are speaking. Buying yourself these few precious seconds can actually lead to a more thoughtful answer free of “ums.” For example, if an interviewer asks you what your best qualities are, you can say, “That’s a great question. I would definitely say my best qualities are my work ethic, my leadership skills, and my affability.” By restating the question, you will not only gain time to answer your question intelligently but you will also avoid pauses.

Hopefully, the tips above can help you to speak as clearly and professionally as possible in your interview. The key is not to become too overly focused on your words, as that can cause you to make even more mistakes. These tips are meant to get you accustomed to speaking a certain way all the time, so that it comes naturally when it’s time to interview. Good luck!

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