5 Bad Speech Habits to Avoid


This post was last updated on April 21st, 2018 at 04:14 pm

When speaking to job seekers, I often listen to this kind of talk: “The position sounds very cool.  I think I would really like this role. Me and my business partner have done this type of work for years. He don’t feel that it’s necessary to have these types of goals but it’s really important for me and hopefully I’ll be prepared for the new challenges this role would bring, you know?”

Does this sound like a well-articulated and professional response to a job interview question or one that could kill it?  Let’s take those statements apart:

“Very cool” – there is a big difference between how we talk to our friends and how we talk professionally. It’s probably best to leave this type of talk with friends.

“I think I would like it”- You think? Can you let me know when you will know for sure?

“Me and my business partner” –  My business partner and I…? Proper English really is important.

“He don’t feel” – He do not feel or he does not feel? ‘Doesn’t’ is the appropriate word and knowing how to use the right words is also very important.

“Hopefully I’ll be prepared…”  Hopefully? Again, you aren’t sure?

“you know?”  Another phrase that is best left to less formal type conversations.

There are so many things you can do to help you strengthen your personal and career brand before you ever actually have to open up your mouth and talk.  Many people work hard at building up a strong brand online. But then what? Eventually, you are going to have to actually meet people and speak. The way you present yourself in person, (and specifically, how you speak), truly has the ability to cost you an opportunity.

Truthfully, when I come across a candidate who has poor speaking skills, it is typically a deal breaker. If it is not, it’s likely because the candidate is interviewing for a position where he/she will have little to no interaction with customers, vendors, or clients. If job seekers are interviewing for any job where they will be interacting with key people, they must show that they know how to speak on a professional level.

Top 5 Bad Speech Habits:

1. Bad Grammar

“He don’t”, “she goes”,  (instead of she said), “I seen it”…

Any way you look at it, using improper speech like this raises questions about your level of education.

2. Using weak references

“I think,” I should be able”, “Hopefully”, “Maybe”, “Perhaps”

3. Using cuss/swear words

These should be self-explanatory…

4. Talking too fast or too slow

Speak confidently, and at a relaxed pace. Talking too fast conveys nervousness, whereas talking too slowly communicates that you’re indecisive.

5. Interrupting or finishing someone’s sentence

Basic manners here: allow someone to finish their thought before you speak! Patience is a virtue.

Even though we know better, I think most of us break a lot of these speech rules when chatting at home or when out with friends and acquaintances. There is a time and place for informal speech: in casual settings, it’s perfectly okay to throw speech rules to the wind.  The key is to know how to turn it off and turn on your “professional speak” when the situation arises.

It’s important to always keep in mind that your personal and career brand goes far past what you actually do online. All of us must consistently work on our brand online and offline so that we can leverage it and use it to our highest advantage. Working on these “offline” traits of your career brand is critical and should not be overlooked. Spending a lot of time using bad speech habits can cause someone to start doing so out of habit. If you make a conscious effort to always use proper speech, it will take much less effort to to present yourself in a professional manner when you need to and will give you one less thing to worry about when it comes time to make a great impression!

Jessica Simko is a seasoned senior level Human Resources professional with over 15 years experience in all facets of Human Resources Management. She is a Career Coach and Consultant specializing in helping all levels of professionals create, build, and sustain a strong career brand. She strives to help connect people to their passions and to leverage their brands in their job search and in their careers. Utilizing the career branding model, she offers job search and career branding articles as well as a variety of coaching services at the Career Branding Guide.  Feel free to connect with her on:

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