It’s the tough question that many have asked themselves before going into an interview: Would changing my regional accent give me a better shot at bagging this job? As a leading UK PA recruitment agency, we love to help candidates gain their dream job—whether it’s as a top London PA, a star office manager, or a high-flying executive assistant, so today we’ll look at whether accents make a difference in getting a job.
What accents suggest
Research has shown that having a strong accent can affect how employable you are. Employers subtly favour certain accents over others, with perceived levels of intelligence, friendliness, and trustworthiness all supposedly conveyed by accent. For example, accents from Devon and Newcastle are perceived as friendly, while Liverpool and Belfast natives are seen as unfriendly. Those who speak the Queen’s English are described as the most intelligent, while people hailing from Birmingham and those with a Cockney accent are said to come across as unintelligent.
A study by ComRes and ITV found that 28% of people in the UK feel discriminated against because of how they speak, while 12% have faced accent discrimination in job interviews. Research has also shown that one in five Brits have altered their accent in order to boost their chances of getting a job (or impressing on a date).
Should you hide your accent?
So should you be masking your accent in a job interview? Or should you stick with your regional roots and hope your true skill and suitability for the job shines through?
The answer is pretty simple: don’t change! Experts in linguistics are increasingly trying to encourage people not to feel like they have to amend their accent in order to score the top jobs. It’s not the accents that need to change, but rather the attitudes towards them.
However, just because you’re sticking with your natural accent doesn’t mean you should start using a whole manner of regional slang. This can be off-putting to employers—try to use neutral, professional terms when responding in interviews, but embrace the way you pronounce the words.
Here are some tips for speaking during interviews:
- Speak slowly – don’t rush and trip over your words. Take your time thinking about how you will phrase each sentence. Practice speaking slowly and calmly for a few days before your interview.
- Don’t change your accent – but try to speak ‘properly’. Many people drop consonants or flatten vowels in their regular accents, when they’re not concentrating on how they sound. In your job interview, you don’t have to change your accent entirely, but ensure that you are speaking properly.
- Use the right grammar. Good grammar and an eloquent style of answering questions can certainly cancel out any perceived negative connotations that your regional accent may have. This will convince employers that you’re perfect for a client-facing role such as a receptionist.
- Identify the positive traits of your accent and work with them. Geordie accents, for example, are perceived as very friendly, while those with Edinburgh, Belfast or Cardiff accents are said to come across as more intelligent. Find out what people’s perception of your accent are, and play up to the positives.
For more tips on finding permanent or temporary PA jobs in the capital, get in touch with PA recruitment agency Love Success.
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