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Author(s): David R. Caprette, PhD
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Presenting. . . You! (2)

Voice Quality. Your voice is an important tool through which to convey your energy and enthusiasm, and to keep the audience engaged. Speak in an authoritative tone to project confidence and credibility. Speaking too quietly, trailing off at the end of sentences, or mumbling will make it difficult for the interviewer to hear or understand you. Use inflection (speaking louder or softer to emphasize certain words or phrases) to indicate significant points, and also to provide variety and interest for those listening.

Adjust the pacing of your speech, speeding up during the details, the “telling of the story,” and slowing down to emphasize key points. However, always speak slowly and deliberately enough for the interviewer to understand clearly what you are saying at all times. Think of pauses as oral punctuation, during which time the interviewer can process what you have just said. Speaking too fast usually indicates nervousness. If you have a tendency to speak too fast, or if English is not your first language, force yourself to slow down and use one breath per phrase.

Make an effort to pronounce words properly, and to enunciate the final consonants/syllables of every word. For example, say “tesTS” not “tes’s,” “facTS” not “faks,” “anD’ not “an,” “goinG” not “goin’,” “want to” not “wanna,” and “have to” not “hafta.” Even more important, be sure to to use correct grammar and vocabulary. You will not impress the interviewer with “big words” or complex sentences if he or she cannot understand what you are saying, or worse, if you are not making sense.

Fillers such as “um,” “uh,” “and,” “like,” “you know,” and “basically” make it more difficult for the listener to follow what you are saying by breaking up the coherence of your statement. Work on eliminating fillers from your everyday speech by becoming more self-conscious of this tendency. You might even have friends or colleagues remind you every time you use one in conversation. If you continue to struggle, train yourself to rest the tip of your tongue on the inside of your top front teeth during pauses.

Attire/Appearance. You want the interviewer to remember you, not your outfit, so choose clothes that contribute to a professional image. Aim to appear tastefully dressed, preferably in crisp, clean clothes. Wear something that makes you feel good about yourself. Choose comfortable but professional shoes, as the interviewer may take you on a walking tour of the campus. It also is a good idea to carry a small umbrella in your briefcase. Practice answering questions in your interview clothes, including your suit jacket, so that you become comfortable sitting and gesturing in more formal attire.