Communication Habits That Make Candidates Appear Immature
The Challenge Facing Today’s Students and Recent Grads
One of the challenges facing many of today’s 20-something grads upon exiting school is that they are too young to have gathered much experience in the professional world. Did you ever ask yourself this question when you were that age: “How can I have experience if nobody is willing to employ me so I can get some experience?”
As a result, many students address this shortcoming with a variety ways to build experience through internships, part-time jobs, volunteer experience, extra-curricular activities, and summer jobs. Activities such as these are critical to crafting a résumé that will secure an interview, but they are not an even exchange for years of full-time work experience.
So the last thing a job seeker needs is to communicate in a way that makes him or her sound too young to be a serious candidate to fill the employer’s opening.
Communication Habits That Make Job Seekers Seem Immature
1. Making every statement seem like a question. Questions are good when you’re learning something new. Yet ask them too often and they become as annoying as a two-year old asking, “why,” to everything you say. Equally annoying is the relatively recent habit of ending statements with an up-note. Instead of saying, “I have two years of experience working with patients,” ending this statement on an up note makes it sound like, “I have two years of experience working with patients?” So the candidate sounds unsure and immature, which is not a winning combination to receive a job offer.
The rule to follow is to make all your statements end on the same note as the body of the statement, or on a slightly down note if you want to emphasize something in a more declarative tone of voice. Questions, on the other hand, should always end on an up-note, so that your interviewer recognizes it as a question.
2. Unbridled exuberance. Yes, you do stand, high-five, and cheer when your team scores the go-ahead points, which is appropriate for being in-stadium or watching with friends at home. High-fiving or exclaiming, “yeah baby!” is not appropriate at a job interview, no matter how much you might agree with something that is said. Here are three other examples of youthfully exuberant communication that can mark you as too immature:
a. Giggles and laughing. Ok for children, and maybe OK when you have the job and are socializing at a company party. If something is really funny and the interviewer is laughing, then smile and chuckle.
b. Overusing strong affirmative statements such as, “that’s fantastic!” or “sweet!” A total of one or two during an entire interview when appropriate is fine.
c. Overuse of punctuation in your written communication can also mark you as immature!!! Got that???!!!
d. Emoticons. Those little smiley faces and 😉 are not appropriate for use in a job search.
3. Constant use of vocalized gap fillers. Even the most polished speaker occasionally uses an “ummm” or “uh” when answering questions. That’s to be expected. The problem arises when you use a vocalized gap-filler multiple times when answering your interviewer’s question. What happens is the interviewer starts counting your umms and uhs and stops listening to the content of your answers.
4. Teenspeak. Listen to most teens speaking among their friends and you’ll quickly notice the words and phrases that teens say that aren’t heard in the workplace (unless it is, like, Rita’s Water Ice or, you know, California Pizza or places that employ mostly teens). Like and you know have become emblematic of teenspeak, though there are other teenspeak words. Google words teenagers love to use and you’re likely to find a list like this one from BuzzFeed. The problem with teenspeak is that it makes someone sound like a teen and not a serious candidate.
5. Textspeak. Because teen culture is overrun with texting, textspeak can easily creep into written communications. LOL, TBT, HAND, ICBW and similar abbreviations used in texting are great shortcuts for texting among friends. Your interviewer, recruiter, and representatives of the employer are not your friends. Textspeak is never appropriate for written communications leading up to your hire.
Bottom Line. Don’t reduce your chances of getting hired because your communication is deemed too immature by prospective supervisors, hiring managers, and HR.
This article is excerpted from the 6th edition of the textbook that is included with the Graduate Employment Preparedness Assessment.
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