Dear Matt: I’ve had interviews but have not been offered a job. What’s holding me back?

Matt says: How you speak is just as important as how you look, says Darlene Price, President of Well Said, Inc. (, a company that teaches professionals how to speak with more confidence, clarity and credibility.

“Despite an impressive résumé, outstanding references and a million-dollar outfit, many highly qualified candidates let careless language jeopardize their chances of landing that plum job,” says Price, author of the book “Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results”.

To ensure you sound as good as you look, here are six pitfalls to avoid, says Price:

1. Talking too much. Companies value employees who communicate in a clear, concise manner. Be interesting and personable, but avoid rambling. As a general rule, keep your answers under two minutes. This not only shows you’re well-prepared and succinct, it also allows time for the interviewer to ask more questions and engage in back-and-forth conversation.

2. Using weak words and phrases. The 12 most common culprits are “I feel,” “I think,” “I guess,” “I’ll try,” “I might,” “I just,” “Maybe,” “Sort of,” “Kind of,” “Probably,” “Hopefully,” and “Perhaps.” Replace these wimpy watered-down words with power phrases such as, “I’m confident,” “I will,” “I can,” “I’m convinced,” “I recommend,” “My goal is,” and “My track record shows.”

3. Sounding unprepared. Anticipate interview questions. Craft your answers and rehearse them aloud at least three to five times before the interview. Record them, listen, then time and tweak your answers. Practice helps ensure you sound prepared, professional and polished.

4. Failing to articulate your value. The primary purpose of a job interview is to sell yourself. Don’t expect your résumé or references to speak for you. With every answer, draw a direct correlation between your skills and the job requirements. Emphasize why you make the best fit for the position. End the interview by saying, “I’m confident I will meet and exceed your expectations for this role. Thank you for your consideration.”

5. Being negative. Nothing tanks an interview faster than badmouthing a previous employer or sounding like an unhappy person. You’re also being evaluated on whether or not you would be a good fit within the company culture. Avoid negative comments and a pessimistic attitude. Use language that conveys optimism, teamwork and helpfulness.

6. Not asking questions. Saying “no” when the interviewer asks if you have questions implies a lack of interest, preparation and confidence. Do your research on the company first. Avoid asking about salary and benefits until the employer raises the subject.

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