Job candidates can unwittingly sabotage themselves by using filler words. Peppering your speech with “um” and “uh,” “like,” or “y’know” makes you sound unintelligent. Don’t allow your manner of speech to detract from the content you’re trying to communicate. Rather than trying to stop senseless fillers, replace the habit with these more effective strategies. 

1. Pause. We often resort to filler words when we’re thinking. Take a few seconds to consider your answer before diving in. This not only eliminates the need for filler words, it allows a more coherent response. 

2. Look. When reaching for an answer, it’s common to look at the ceiling or at your notes. Remember the importance of eye contact. Remind yourself to look your interviewers in the eye as you listen, using nodding and other non-verbals to show you are engaged.

3. Smile. Filler words are a symptom of nerves. These nerves can detract from your connection with your interviewers. Be warm and open. A confident, genuine smile puts you and your interviewers at ease.