How to Speak Slowly During a Job Interview

Readers of a certain age will remember those humorous commercials of our childhoods when an impossibly fast narrator would pitch the wonders amassing your very own fleet of miniature toy cars.  If your gray hairs and memories don’t quite reach that far back, then most of us can at least pinpoint that one friend or acquaintance that rambles on at breakneck speed through even the most relaxed of conversations.  

While these scenarios may come off as amusing at the time, rapid speaking is hard to understand and makes it difficult to maintain a multi-sided discussion.  During an interview, speaking too quickly can also create the appearance of nervousness, undermining much-needed confidence on the part of both candidates and interviewers.

Confident, clear and well-paced conversation is an essential skill to master before entering any interview room.  If you’re one of the many that get a case of the jitters or has a bad habit of speaking too quickly, we’ve got a few tips and tricks to help slow things down.

Practice Pacing Your Rate of Speech

Similar to the way that you would review the job description, perform due diligence on the prospective employer, or prep your resume, practicing your speech is an essential part of preparing for your in person or telephone interview.  

Studies show that the ideal rate of conversational speech is 130 to 150 words per minute.  Trust us, this is much fewer than it sounds.  Using a word count feature, type up around 300 words of your choice.  While your favorite song, poem, or high school speech and debate presentation are more than acceptable, a personal description of your work experience may be a bit more applicable and true to life.  With a digital timer in hand, recite your 300-ish words, stopping the time when you’ve wrapped the entire diatribe.  If you finish too early, practice slowing down your verbiage.  Run over, consider hurrying things up a bit.  After a few tries, you’ll develop an ear for proper pacing.

Be an Active Listener

In addition to practicing your rate of speech, developing active listening skills is another handy method to pace both your individual speech and the speed of the conversation itself.  In typical social situations with friends or family, familiarity with individual’s speech patterns often leads us to run over, interrupt or anticipate others’ comments.  In an interview, however, candidates should make a concerted effort to listen to the interviewer’s full questions and explanations without adding in extraneous comments or interjecting.  

In addition to helping the conversation develop a more natural and engaging pace, learning to listen to your interviewer can help you identify key facts to use at a later date to show you’re capable of collecting and applying facts, figures and critical information which are key “soft skills” employers look for in quality candidates.  

Remember to Relax…and Breathe

Many candidates have perfectly normal, slow pacing of their speech in social situations but find themselves running their mouths a mile a minute in an interview.  This often has less to do with actual skills and more to do with a serious case of interview-induced jitters.

While we’ve espoused on techniques to reduce interview nervousness previously, it’s worth a quick recap of speech and verbal pacing in mind.  If you feel your nerves starting to act up during an interview, try taking a few deep breaths to collect yourself.  Limit the amount of caffeine you take in prior to the interview as this can spike blood pressure and cause artificially induced jitteriness.  If you find yourself doubting your ability to remember, try bringing a notepad into your interview.  Your prospective employer will appreciate both your preparedness and attention to detail while you’ll have a crutch to lean on for a quick self-confidence.

As the last word of advice, the best way to combat nerves, slow your speech and increase your chances at landing a lucrative job offer is to show up prepared with plenty of practice under your belt.  Plenty of practice prior to your interview will serve a variety of important functions, all of which will help you move that much closer to landing the job of your dreams.

Article Updated from the Original on October 25, 2017