HR Strange But True!
November 10, 2005

The word "like" may be the modern day equivalent of "um" and "ah," but when it comes to job interviews, recruiters don't, well, they just don't like it.

Gerry Crispin, a New Jersey-based consultant and former recruiter, told Newhouse News Service that repetitive use of the word "like" is "career-limiting," particularly in fields requiring precise communication.

Sloppy speech may make job candidates appear unable to stay on task. "I wouldn't hire them," Crispin said. "I wouldn't promote them."

During job interviews, it makes candidates sound "immature, lazy, and unclear," said Andrea Kay, A Cincinnati-based career consultant and author of Interview Strategies That Will Get You the Job You Want.

"When they say the 'and I'm like' phrase, I stop them and say, 'You're like what?' At first, they can't finish their sentence," Kay said. "They don't even know what I'm talking about, this manner of speaking is so ingrained in them."

Other recruiters are more forgiving, chalking it up to the applicant's youth.

"Like" serves several functions in youths' conversations, linguists say. It may take the place of an "um," a pause in conversation, as the speaker searches for the right word or collects thoughts. It can introduce a quote, as in, "I was like, 'What are you wearing?'" It also can indicate a level of comfort between the speakers, and often flows in lighter conversations.

But it stands out in a job interview, in which language is typically more formal, and career advisers say young job-seekers should eliminate unnecessary "likes" and other distracting language.

"A silent pause before or after you speak is perfectly acceptable," said Doug Hamilton, director of career counseling at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Ala. "In fact, it can actually exude confidence."

Source: Newhouse News Service via

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