How to hack your voice for an interview

woman shaking hands, job interview, strengths

Interviewing? Candidates can’t just turn up and stand out from the crowd. In a high pressured interview environment, the answer to a question is just as important as the speed of which its answered. 

Slowing down allows time for the brain to process and adapt answers and the speed with which an answer is delivered cements an instant reaction by an interviewer.  The voice is the number one communication tool for setting a tone of calm, confidence, control and more.

The voice is often taken for granted.  As one of a humans’ most important communication tools it must always be front and centre.  The Voice Box and Vocal Cords can be trained, just as any other muscle in the human body.   Understanding how these create sounds and how to use their voice leads to control in numerous settings.

CeCe Sammy-Lightfoot, professional backing singer and vocal coach to the likes of Diana Ross, Sting, One Direction and Julio Iglesias, and the behind the scenes coach of some of the world’s most popular music based TV shows; The Voice, the X Factor and American Idol, has created a short and free Hack Your Voice Masterclass to support interviews, during which she share’s some of the key lessons she has learned as a professional vocal coach. 

Top tips to maximise your voice

A candidate is alone in their interview process and so must consider their vocal as a key element to success in an interview, alongside other obvious planning for an interview; researching the interviewer, the job role itself, culture and the business itself.  You must be heard and be seen.  There are fundamentals that should be explored for any job interview, and basic principles implemented for success.  CeCe Sammy-Lightfoot offers simple tips on maximising the qualities the voice can express in this type of a setting;

  1. Focus on your posture allowing your freedom for your voice: Pretend there is a string going from the base of your spine through the top of your head that is pulling up. Be aware of this string and how tall it is. If you start slouching, the string will become very floppy but you need to keep it tight. By imagining this, it may help you to keep your posture upright and tall which in turn will help your voice sound confident, despite the nerves.
  2. Controlling the voice in a heightened pressured state: Find the middle range of your voice by doing “the descent exercise”. A “descent exercise” would help to feel how the high voice could naturally transfer into the chest area. This “chest area” voice will help the person to speak clearly and not to speak too fast or too high. It would project a greater sense of calm and control.
  3. Make your entrance: Film yourself and looking back at how you walked into the room. As you look at what you have filmed, look at your shoulders to see if you are slouching and remember to smile.
  4. Your interview is a performance, fine tune the key deliverables: As you film yourself, say in 1 sentence “who you are”, “what you do”, and “why you are good for this job”. Do not get distracted. Those are your key points. It is also very helpful to create an “edited” version of what you will say in an interview. I would not suggest scripting what you want to say as that can sound unnatural and prevent you expressing your personality, but it is helpful to be clear in advance about the key points you want to convey. 
  5. Embrace you, project the best version of yourself: In your interview, you need the interviewer to remember you above the other people that have been seen. The impression you want to leave with an interviewer is going to depend on the role you are going for. But some things remain the same whatever that role may be. You want to show the best version of yourself – be authentic, project confidence and competence.

Always excel at the basics.  Use the voice to project your worth for the job, ensure its used to its highest potential. 

About the author

Cece SammyCeCe Sammy is a classically trained musician and one of the world’s leading vocal and performance coaches who has worked with artists and actors from the BBC, Paramount, Warner Bros and Universal.

Starting her career as a backing singer for Diana Ross, she is passionate about the power of creativity to change all of our lives for the better, a patron of The Arts and a champion of young people.

Most of all, CeCe wants every person to know that knowledge is power, no matter what age you are, what background you come from or what obstacles you face.

Born in Trinidad, home of the biggest carnival in the Caribbean and soca music, CeCe grew up obsessed with Classical music after seeing flamboyant piano impresario Liberace on TV.

“I saw him in these amazing outfits, wearing diamond rings and a huge smile as he played the most beautiful music and thought, that’s what I want to do!” she says, ” So I started listening to classical music and learning piano every day while all my friends were outside playing.”

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