Why the word ‘so’ ruins an interview

Filler words can ruin an interview. Here’s why this tiny word is a nonstarter when answering media questions.

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A seemingly inescapable, two-letter, throat-clearing, verbal tic is driving people batty.

Its use has been described as a “linguistic epidemic,” and the backlash has cascaded from a BBC radio program to Twitter to The Times of London—and beyond.

The word in question here is the ubiquitous “so” at the start of responses in media interviews.

This is not a new issue, but listener frustration appears to have reached something of a recent fever pitch.

The Radio 4 program Feedback—a forum for comments, criticism and praise for the BBC’s output—has featured the ‘so’ epidemic in two consecutive episodes, with listeners venting their anger in particular at its use on the Today program.

Robert from Wakefield said: “I have been increasingly irritated over the last couple of years by the increasing use of the word ‘so’ when prefacing a sentence.” Kay from Belfast added: “I don’t think ‘so’ is an appropriate word with which to begin a sentence.”

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