Filler Phrases Don't Work for Interviews: Nix the 'Like, You Know'

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on September 27, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

True story: A colleague interviewed a candidate who had all the right stuff: right grades, right credentials, and the right experience. The candidate didn't get the job though. Why?

She, um, like, said "you know" after like, every sentence, you know what I mean?

Filler phrases might be OK for chatting it up with your roommate. But if you want to make a good impression in a job interview, then you need to learn how to talk the talk -- and that talk doesn't include "um," "like," and "you know."

So how to break out of this awful habit? Here are four tips:

1. Record and Play Back.

Enlist a friend (or bring back your childhood imaginary friend) and videotape a practice interview. You don't need a fancy camera; many laptops, computers, and smartphones have a record feature that you can use. Act and answer questions as you would in an interview. Then comes the hard part: watching yourself.

We know, it's not fun, but it's the most helpful thing you can do for yourself. You'll start to see what filler phrases you rely on, as well as any other bad habits you may have like fidgeting or playing with your hair.

2. Practice Makes Perfect.

Once you know what the problem areas are, practice answering interview questions in front of a mirror. You can't practice enough, there's no such thing as coming across as too polished in an interview. Try to evoke a sense of honesty, trust, and calm.

3. Think Before You Speak.

This probably seems obvious, but if it were you being interviewed, you wouldn't be rambling on and on when answering questions, right? It's better to take a few moments to gather your thoughts and speak coherently than to answer immediately with a bunch of gibberish.

4. Rubber Band Therapy.

Purely a method of last resort, this is for the diehard Valley Girls that just don't want to can't give up their "like totally" inane way of speaking: rubber band therapy. Calm Clinic states that rubber band therapy is normally used for anxiety, but as the Daily Mail reports, it can be used to break bad habits. Here's the plan: Every time you say a filler phrase, you snap the rubber band. Hopefully, after not too many snaps you'll "snap out of it."

In this job market, it's hard enough to get a job interview, and you don't want to blow it because of silly filler phrases. You'll soon be working as an adult, in the legal field. It's time you started talking like one.

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