If you’ve interviewed for a job and been turned down even though it seemed like the perfect fit, you’ve probably wondered why you were passed over. Was there someone more qualified? Did they want someone younger, older, male, female or a person who met another criteria? You may have even questioned how you looked in your interview, if you came on too strong or not strong enough. You may have even wondered if your accent got in the way.
A person doesn’t have to be difficult to understand for an accent to be apparent. Just notice the differences in the way people speak from California to New York to Alabama. Every part of the US has some kind of accent. The same is true in the different areas of Canada, Britain and other countries. From country to country, from region to region, people have different tones to their voices. The question is can an accent influence a manager or employer on hiring you?
Are You Difficult to Understand?
One of the primary issues for people with heavy accents is that they may be more difficult to understand. If you’ve moved to a different part of the country and are applying for a position where you will deal with local customers, it may be a real concern for the employer as to how well you will interact with customers. Or more accurately, how well they will interact with you.
Customers who are in a hurry or are already upset do not want to deal with someone they can’t understand, whether it is a deep southern drawl or a northern nasal accent. If the employer has a hard time understanding what you say and asks you to repeat yourself, it may have an impact on whether you get hired or not.
The Nuances of Accents
Accents can also influence an emotional response. The view of someone as an outsider, someone not from the community, may cause the hiring manager to look at another candidate. While this is more often the case in small communities rather than large cities, it can play a role anywhere.
People often stereotype others because of their accents. Even though they may know that stereotypes are usually not accurate, it can still impact their decisions. They aren’t all negative. In fact, some accents can make you sound more refined or educated. Other people may see you as nice, easy-going or sincere because of your accent. On the other hand, they may assume you’re slow or uneducated based on your accent.
An accent influences people in the hiring process for good or bad. This is one reason people hire an accent reduction coach to help them change their accent so that it isn’t as apparent. If you’re concerned about your accent and if it is hindering your chances at getting a job, you may want to address the issue and even seek out help with an accent coach. At least, be aware of the impact your accent may have on your career.
Claudette Roche is a dialect coach in the Vero Beach, FL area. She teaches foreign and American accents to actors and business persons/executives. In 2010 she was named as one of The Top 5 Voice Coaches by Hollywood Weekly Magazine.