People Judge Your Intelligence Based On The Sound Of Your Voice, So Start Talking

When you're preparing for an important job interview, you probably update your resume, prepare your talking points, and find a conservative yet fashion forward outfit to wear. What you probably don't do is engage in vocal exercises — but you may want to start: A new study found that people judge your intelligence level based on your voice. And by "on your voice," I don't mean "on what you say" — I literally mean on the fact that there are words coming out of your mouth.

This research, coming out of the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, studied how voice influences employers' perceptions of job applicants pitches. In order to see whether adding voice to an elevator pitch would make the pitch more effective, the researchers had several groups of participants perform elevator pitches in a number of different ways: They recorded them using tape recorders, filmed them on video cameras, and had them write their pitches down. This allowed the researchers to study prospective employers' impressions of the candidates using audio and video, just audio, and just written text with no audio or visual component. What they found was that when the employers heard the elevator pitches rather than reading them, they rated the candidates as being more competent, intelligent, and thoughtful. Thus, they were then more likley to want to hire the job candidates in question.

The researchers performed this same experiment twice, once using professional actors and another time using MBA students with no professional background — and they found no difference in the results. “Our data does not show that appearances don’t matter... What they show is that your intelligence is not necessarily something I can see on your body, but I think it’s a cue that we can pick up or hear in your voice,” study author Nicholas Epley told TIME. Interestingly, there's another twist, too: The recruiters who saw the video of the candidate giving their speech over just hearing the audio didn't rate the candidates any more favorably. But, don't take this to mean that it won't matter if you show up to your next interview in sweats.

If you're wondering how you can apply these findings to your own job hunting or just life in general, here are four ways you can use these findings to make the best impression possible — no matter where you are or what situation you're in.

1. Call Instead of Email


If you can talk to a job recruiter or potential employer directly, you should take that opportunity. If you want to apply for a position, call the hiring manager of that company and ask them instead of sending an email. Since so many people email over calling these days, reaching for the phone will make a more lasting impression.

2. Treat People Kindly Who Don't Have a Literal Voice


It's always good to be nice to others, but the Internet can cause us to forget that the person behind the screen is actually a living, breathing human being. Said Epley to TIME, “We think this speaks to a broader capacity to recognize that other people are human beings... So much of our conversations and interactions with each other are done digitally with the voice stripped out. I don’t think it’s any accident that people online people seem to treat each other as mindless idiots." Sharp words, perhaps, but worth noting.

3. Sharpen Your Verbal Vernacular


In terms of how this comes into play with intelligence, the study showed that your intellect shines through in voice rather than presence. "What they show is that your intelligence is not necessarily something I can see on your body, but I think it’s a cue that we can pick up or hear in your voice," Epley said. So, if you want to sound as smart as you are, brushing up your vocabulary and practice speaking confidently to make a good impression on your interview.

4. Follow Up With a Phone Call


You should always follow up with your interviewer after the fact to thank them for taking the time to speak with you. This is not only courteous, but will make them remember you over other candidates who may not have been this thoughtful. Instead of emailing, use this opportunity to put the voice factor in your favor.

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