I can’t say that I’ve ever refused to hire someone because of a thick accent, but I have taken it into consideration (especially when recruiting for a receptionist).
According to a recent BBC Radio segment, more and more ‘New Yawkers’ are turning to voice coaches to help them lose their Brooklyn, Queens or Staten Island accents. Note: please don’t confuse my Jersey accent with that of a New Yawker. My pronunciation of the word ‘youse’, for example, is slightly, but perceptibly, different. And, as for Lawn Guylanders well, don’t get me started.
Voice coaches say New Yawkers want to lose their accents in order to sound more worldly, a key consideration in a global marketplace. But, as I said, unless the position is that of a receptionist, I don’t know that I’d care about a candidate’s accent. After all, we have several Southerners holding executive positions at Peppercom. Their continual use of y’all is accepted by one and y’all. And, our very own Carl ‘Union Jack’ Foster’s British accent is positively melodious. (What is it about a British accent? And, why does it always sound so damned sophisticated?)
I’d like to think that, with one exception, I’m accent agnostic; the exception being a particularly thick Boston one. It literally drove me wild my freshman year at Northeastern University, and still creates a Pavlovian response akin to someone scratching his nails on a chalkboard.
How about you? Does the New Yawk accent bother you? How about that flat Midwestern accent? A Southern drawl? More importantly, do you think it should be factored into a job evaluation? I’d be interested in hearing your views (as long as they’re not left on my voice mail in a thick, Boston accent).