Your tone of voice is telling your job interviewer more than you think.
This is a guest post by Dr. Michael Britt.
Photo Credit: Tess Watson
You’re about to go for a job interview. So let me guess, you:
- Spiff up the resume
- Buy a good suit/dress
- Rehearse your answer to “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
- Recall what your mother told you: “Sit up straight”, and what your father told you: “Give ‘em a strong handshake.”
Ok, not bad. All this should help you present a good impression. But have you thought about what your voice says about you?
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Listen to what your voice is saying
Interviewers pay attention to body language (eye contact, smiling, etc.). Sometimes I wonder if job seekers realize this because I’ve interviewed more than one person who wore a drab “this is my interview suit” suit and sat back in the chair like it was getting late for his afternoon nap and when was this going to be over?
So when you rehearse things over in your head or when you talk through your answers in the car, consider what psychologists are discovering about what your voice says about you:
1) The pitch of your voice
There’s not much you can do about how high or low your voice is, but you might as well know that for men, lower voices are seen as more authoritative (wouldn’t we all like to sound like James Earl Jones after all?) and people with voices like this are seen as more appropriate for managerial jobs.
For women, interestingly, a low voice or a very high voice is rated poorly. Low voice = not feminine, high voice = not mature. Geez! Ya can’t win!
2) The rhythm of your voice
Has your voice changed? Don’t speak in a monotone voice. Remember how your college professor put you to sleep with a boring lecture? Put some life into your voice during an interview. Who wants to have a boring co-worker? Show a little personality through your voice.
3) How fast you speak
Although you don’t want to come across as a fast-talking, Slick Willie-type salesperson, don’t talk slowly. A good pace is essential for a good impression.don’t talk slowly. A good pace is essential for a good impressionClick To Tweet
4) Don’t pause too often
While it’s good – especially if you’re stuck for an answer – to pause and say “that’s a good question”, long or frequent pauses don’t send a good impression. Your preparation regarding those annoying questions is important.
5) Consider how loudly you speak
I’m talking about watching out for sudden changes in how loudly you sound. Too much unexpected or surprising change in how loud you are can lead to a sense that you just aren’t stable and maybe not right for that job that requires a lot of responsibility.
Pay attention to what your voice is doing.
The voice characteristics above were studied with interviews for managerial jobs in mind. If you’re going for that great acting job then you might violate all of the guidelines above. Other creative types might also violate these guidelines. In either case, take a look at your voice language as well as your body language.
And remember to sit up straight and give ‘em a good handshake too.
Question of the article
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Celebrity voice coach Roger Love explains how to improve your (interview) tone of voice
- 5 Ways to Improve Your Vocal Delivery in Interviews
- Phone Interviews: How To Put Your Best Voice Forward
- How to strike the right vocal chords in a job interview
- Your voice may be your biggest asset at your next job interview
- Trainer's tip: Preparing your voice before speaking
About the author
Michael Britt, Ph.D., is the host of The Psych Files podcast and blog. The Psych Files is for anyone interested in what makes us “tick”. Each week he shows how ideas from psychology can be seen in everyday life. Michael taught psychology at Marist College and is currently an eLearning specialist for Pearson Education. You can subscribe to The Psych Files through iTunes.
This article was part of the 2008 JobMob Guest Blogging Contest.