Written by Amie Case, Graduate Assistant with the Career Center, Master of Arts, English: Creative Writing.
It happens to the best of us: at some point, we all blubber our way through an interview. We think out loud with lots of “uhh’s” and “umm’s,” we completely lose track of what we were trying to say, and our minds freeze until we no longer know our own names. In these moments, it’s best to take a cue from Pirates of the Caribbean’s Commodore Norrington and simply be silent.
Filler words and phrases
During an interview, you can hurt your chances of getting a job or internship by repeating filler words such as:
- like, so
- um, uh
- sure, yeah, yes
or phrases such as:
- and whatnot
- stuff like that
- if that makes sense?
Excessive use of unnecessary words is not only distracting, but it also makes you seem flustered and unprepared to talk about your experiences.
Additionally, if you completely lose track of what you’re saying, or if your mind blanks, it’s absolutely okay to take a moment to quietly gather your thoughts. Saying nothing at all is better than trying to fill the void with empty words. Restate the question to your interviewers to make sure that you understand what they are asking. This may spark the thoughts you need to get back on track.
The solution? Practice. Record yourself answering practice interview questions. You might (or might not) be surprised at how many times those filler words pop up. Practice interviews will help you construct and prepare your answers in a way that accurately illustrates your experiences and skills. While there is no real substitute for the pressure of an interview, the more you prepare your answers, the less likely you are to draw a blank. Keep in mind, though, you don’t want to sound scripted or robotic.
Want more interview practice? Sign-up now for Mock Interview Day where Missouri State University students and alumni have the opportunity to practice interviewing and receive feedback from local employers and recruiters. Students and alumni can also schedule a mock interview at the Missouri State University Career Center.