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Succeed in the workplace
Succeed in the workplace

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7.2 What you say and how you say it

Photo of a man holding his hand to his ear, listening.
Figure 13 Sound confident

You need to sound like you, but the most confident version of yourself, even if you are nervous. If you speak clearly, not too quickly, and avoid dropping your voice towards the end of sentences, you will sound more confident.

Much of the time you will be answering questions. To do this convincingly, follow these tips.

  • Be enthusiastic – but do not overdo it.
  • Be brief – do not ramble.
  • Use plain language – jargon or buzz words can be alienating.
  • Be positive – and if you have to offer up a negative, focus on what you learned.
  • Be truthful – but not too modest.
  • Give an example – remember to use the STAR structure.
  • Ask – if it’s not clear what is being asked.
  • Stop speaking – when you have answered the question.
  • Do not be afraid to pause – if you need time to think about a question.
  • Answer the question asked – not the one you wish they had asked.
  • Don’t just tell them what you think they want to hear – remember that you are helping the interviewers to make the right decision, for both of you.

If you are being interviewed by telephone then how you sound is even more important. The interviewer can't see you, so make your voice clear and expressive, so that you convey enthusiasm and interest in the job. It can be difficult to gauge the interviewer's reaction to your answers because you cannot see them. Say what you need to say to answer the question, then stop.

Some small tips which often help when having an important conversation on the telephone are:

  • Smile when you’re talking on the telephone, as you would when talking to someone face-to-face. The smile won’t be seen but it can be heard.
  • Standing up while talking can make you sound more confident.