I wrote recently about a report into the job market, which suggested that things are picking up and that it’s as good a time to look for a job as it has been for many years. The question then becomes, how best to do so?
A recent study highlights a rather unusual source of success - our voice. Whenever we hear or read interview advice, it usually revolves around things like being punctual, dressing well, preparing and researching the company in question, and so on. The study suggests, however, that in addition to all of those things, it’s also crucial that we make our voices heard.
The Power of Verbal Communication
The study found that, even when the information about a candidate was identical, evaluators would judge a potential job applicant much more highly if the information was spoken rather than written.
The authors suggest that things like the cadence, pitch and tone of our voice can reveal much about our thoughts and reasoning in real time, all of which makes us appear much more intelligent than our words do when taken in isolation.
The study asked participants to make an elevator pitch about their qualifications and experience, just as they would do if they were in an interview situation. The recordings were then viewed, listened to or read by both amateur volunteers and professional recruiters.
Across five distinct experiments, the results were identical. In each one, candidates were rated much more favourably when their CV was heard rather than read. What’s more, the candidates were not only regarded as smarter in such circumstances but also were regarded as more hireable.
Whether the recording had video attached didn’t seem to matter a great deal, with the audio recording being the main factor in this boost.
“The words that come out of a person’s mouth convey the presence of a thoughtful mind more clearly than the words typed by a person’s hands—even when those words are identical,” the authors note.
They suggest that the natural changes in cadence and pitch when we speak is effective at communicating the enthusiasm and intellect we have, and much better at doing so than the monotone we often fall into when we’re reading out loud.
Quality of Voice
Suffice to say however, we shouldn’t take this to mean that all forms of speech are equally effective. Studies have shown that coming across as nervous when we speak is very damaging to our job prospects.
Candidates that come across as anxious in an interview usually receive much lower feedback from their interviewers, and are therefore much less likely to get a job offer.
When interviews were recorded, the researchers were able to identify speed of speech as a key determinant of nervousness in a candidate. The slower the candidate spoke, the higher they were rated for nerves.
“Often interviewees are worried that they are engaging in nervous tics that are revealing of their anxiety, when in fact the impression that they convey of themselves as assertive (or not) appears to be more indicative of their anxiety,” the authors say.
So if you want to succeed, make sure you speak about your credentials, just be sure you don’t do so too slowly.
Do you think you have ever missed out on a job because you didn’t speak enough or with enough quality? Your thoughts and comments below please...