It's about the time of year for college seniors to be getting their first round of job interviews. While you've probably heard a lot about preparing for an interview in terms of dress and paperwork, it's equally important to polish the way you speak.
Students have distinct speech patterns and slang that can keep them from getting past the interview stage, says Patricia Fripp, a speech coach based in San Francisco. She cites "all those, such as 'you know' or 'like' - irregular non-words."
To go from college-speak to professional-speak:
Be specific. Students over-use generic words such as "stuff," "things" and "a lot." Instead, give details and numbers. "Specificity builds credibility," Fripp says.
Take your time. "Don't be afraid of silence," she advises. "Pause and think of what you're going to say." It will make your answer flow better.
Speak in sentences. Don't ramble. Remember that you're one of many candidates - short, concise statements will be recalled and repeated when it comes time to single out memorable candidates.
Consider the company image. Job seekers already do this when they choose what to wear for an interview, says Fripp. But you should also consider how you sound. Do you know the correct lingo for the field? You should sound professional and knowledgeable.
Make a commitment to change. If you're unsure what your specific speech problems are (generic words, non-words, etc.), tape record yourself talking. "Ask for help to change your behavior," Fripp recommends. Request that friends and family really correct you if they hear you use such word ticks.