There’s a whole lot of nervous energy that goes into a job interview. One of the most obvious ways that those nerves bubble to surface is through the way we speak. As our hearts race and  the sweat begins to build, keeping the connection between your brain and mouth clear becomes increasingly difficult. Suddenly, you notice a tremble in your voice or an awkward stumble in the middle of a sentence. Our natural tendency to combat this anxiety is to overuse the words that feel most comfortable to us – filler words – to slow things down. For example:

“Please tell me about yourself.”

“Well, um,  you know, I grew up in the southwest suburbs outside of, like, Chicago.”

Sound familiar? If you’re looking to give yourself a confidence boost along the job search, consider these tips for ditching job interview filler words: 

The Trouble with Filler Words

In truth, filler words are not necessarily bad. They play an important role in everyday conversation, allowing us time to think, acknowledge others and bridge the gap between thoughts. Some common filler words and phrases include:

  • You know
  • Um
  • Uh
  • Basically
  • Just
  • To be honest
  • Like

However, just like adding too much salt to a dish, overloading on filler words can distract from the meat of a conversation. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a discussion filled with fillers, you know the feeling; you might even start counting the number of times you hear the person use their favorite go-to word! 

The Power of Silence

Thankfully, there are ways to avoid overdoing it when it comes to job interview filler words. One of the most powerful solutions is to embrace moments of strategic silence. While our natural tendency might be to fill the tense moments of a job interview with words, a well-timed pause might actually be more meaningful. Studies have shown that while we typically speak at a rate of about 150 words per minute, we think at a rate of 400 words per minute. What that adds up to is a distorted perception of reality, one in which a silence that may feel like an eternity in our minds is, in reality, only seconds long. 

When you feel the impulse to respond immediately to a question with an, “um…” take a moment to stop, think and collect your thoughts without using throw away words. It might feel strange at first, but the momentary silence can actually calm your nerves and build suspense on the part of the interviewer. 

Getting There with Mock Interviews

The first step towards ditching job interview filler words is to identify your go-to terms. To do so, consider trying out mock interviews. Practicing your responses to standard interview questions can help you to identify your conversational tendencies. Whenever possible, ask a person you trust to act as the interviewer during these dry runs. Not only will they help to make the practice run feel more real, but they can also assist with pointing out your use of filler words. If no one is available to help out, you can also try recording your responses on video, then reviewing the footage to spot opportunities for improvement. 

It’s important to note that the goal should not be to remove filler words from your vocabulary entirely. After all, you don’t want to sound like a robot! Rather, shoot to get to a place where you feel comfortable – not only with your responses, but also with moments of helpful silence.

Do you need help preparing for your next job interview? Reach out to your local Medix recruiter today to get started at Careers.Medixteam.com!