By Brad Bell
During an interview it may be wise to select one’s words carefully, and sound as professional as possible. Using unnecessary and annoying words such as “like” and “uh” might affect how professional you are perceived to be. Consequently, the use of these
words might decrease the likelihood that you will be hired.
Russell, Perkins, and Grinnell (2008) had participants in their study listen to an audiotape of a person who simulated a person applying for a data entry job. They also received a written transcript. In the control condition, the person did not use “uh” or “like.” In the “like” condition, the person said “like” 15 times. In the “uh” condition, the
person said “uh” 15 times. On the average, the person was rated higher in the control condition than in the “like” condition with respect to perceived professionalism and likelihood of being hired.
Moreover, on the average, the person was rated higher in the control condition than in the “uh” condition with respect to perceived professionalism and likelihood of being hired. (1) It should be kept in mind that this study did not involve actual hiring decisions. Thus,
it is not clear whether the findings would generalize to actual hiring decisions. Nonetheless, it may be a good idea for job applicants to avoid using “like” and “uh” during interviews.
1. See their article for other findings.
Russell, B., Perkins, J., & Grinnell, H. (2008). Interviewees’ overuse of the word “like” and hesitations: Effects in simulated hiring decisions. Psychological Reports, 102, 111-118.