Job Interviews. Two words that leave us feeling nervous or anxious. We know interviewing can lead to new opportunities in our careers, but often these big moments come with stress and anxiety.
We’ve all been there: sitting in the lobby waiting for our interview, palms getting sweaty, our breathing feeling shorter and faster as we wait. Suddenly, we walk into the room and the interview starts, we start to speak and what comes out sounds NOTHING like our voice. Instead, a breathless squeaky toy has taken over and no matter what we do, we can't find our grounded sound. Trust us when we say, we’ve been there.
With the pressures (and stressors) of job interviews, we wanted to take a moment to share some tips and best practices to help you walk into your next interview feeling confident in your authentic voice.
Here are six areas of focus to help you and your voice during your next interview:
1. Breathe: We’ve spent time talking about the importance of your breath. As a reminder, how we breathe has a direct impact on the sounds that pass through our vocal tract.
During your interview, we suggest using back breathing. Back breathing occurs when you focus on expanding in your lower ribs and back when you inhale. This type of breath also lengthens our vocal tract, which allows us to have a richer and more colorful sound.
Fun fact: this breathing helps calm your nervous system. This will allow you to have more control over your breath, body and mind during your interview. Want to explore back breathing more? Check out our last blog post all about breath!
2. Focus on perfect diction: It is important to speak clearly and confidently when you are answering interview questions. This means we should articulate our words carefully, and avoid mumbling.
As we practice our articulation, a helpful reminder that the first consonants and syllables spoken are just as important as the last (without sounding like a robot!).
3. Inflection is your friend: Inflection (varying your pitch up and down) is one of the most vital elements to being a charismatic speaker. Not only does inflection help us emphasize important points, it also keeps the interviewer engaged.
A few ways to play with inflection: use higher pitch when trying to show passion, and a lower pitch when trying to appear like an authoritative leader. When playing with inflection, it’s good to remember not to go too far to the extremes in our range.
Just a heads up - the opposite of inflection is monotone. Don’t do that!
4. Volume Control: Now is a good time to mention that we should be speaking at a comfortable and relaxed volume without raising our voice to the point it feels like we’re shouting. We also shouldn’t be speaking at a low volume where we aren't heard.
Aiming for that middle ground spot where our voice projects with a comfortable volume will help our interviewer to think we’re having a conversation that feels measured and controlled.
5. Be careful of speed: Your speed when answering interview questions is just as important as your pitch.
Speaking too fast can make us sound even more nervous, or like we're trying to rush our way through answers. Speaking too fast may also impact diction, making it even harder to understand what we’re saying. But, speaking too slowly can make us sound bored or disengaged.
The key here is trying to find a comfortable pace that allows us to speak clearly and confidently.
6. Silence: Not all silence is made equal and this is a friendly reminder to not treat silences the same during an interview!
We advise you to use silences to group together ideas you want the listener to hear. Thinking of silence as the moment where a new bullet point or line item might be found on paper is a helpful way of planning out silences in advance of your interview.
Bonus tip: Practice, Practice, Practice: As silly as it sounds, the more you practice speaking clearly and confidently, the easier it will become.
Consider practicing with a friend or family member before your interview. Ask them to listen to the speed of your speech, if they can understand every word, if they feel like you are varying your pitch, etc. You can also record yourself speaking and listen to the recording to identify areas where you can improve.
Starting to think about these 6 tips - and using the advice of the seventh and practicing them all - will help you to better utilize your voice as a powerful tool during your next job interview!
By better understanding how we can control and navigate our breath, pitch, volume and articulation, we’re able to identify what is optimal for an interview setting, and strive toward that sound.