We humans have become incredibly adept at communication. Through hundreds of complex spoken dialects and our body language we are able to convey our mood to the theory of relativity.
It comes as no surprise then, that our ability to communicate well directly correlates to our ability to get on well with others. This is especially so when it comes to job interviews. Not only do you need to effectively discuss your skills and experience, but you need to build a rapport too.
When you consider employers rate communication skills as one of the main qualities they look out for in a candidate you need to get it right. Especially as you need to be able to communicate effectively once you’re in the job, not just for the interview.
How you speak, sit, gesture and even where you direct your attention all has an impact on how the person opposite you responds. With only 6% of communication verbal, your behaviour can dictate the outcome of your interview more than the answers you give.
So, if you’re getting ready for an interview, find out how you can improve your communication skills ahead of time.
Eye Contact and Expressions
When communicating, your eyes act as an indicator of how you feel. During an interview, they help convey important signals like your interest level, confidence and intent.
By looking down at your shoes or something else in the room, you’ll come across as apprehensive and nervous. Be sure to maintain regular eye contact, so the interviewer knows you’re engaged in the conversation. It will send the message that you’re switched on and prepared to answer their questions.
If they ask you about something you’re particularly passionate about, let it show on your face. Professional doesn’t mean robotic and most employers want to hire passionate people.
Smiling can also do wonders in this instance. By keeping a warm and friendly expression on your face, your interviewer will be more at ease in your company. Which will go in your favour when trying to build a rapport and show acknowledgement or appreciation.
Often when we feel anxious or nervous, we have a tendency to fill awkward silences with unnecessary conversation. Talking calmly and slowly not only shows you’re in control of your emotions, it helps the interviewer understand you.
There’s no point having great answers practised and at the ready if you just blurt them out incoherently. Take a breath, relax and answer the questions asked of you at a calm pace. The last thing you’d want to do is rush the interview as if you have someplace better to be.
Communication skills aren’t just your ability to articulate yourself, it also encompasses your listening skills. There’s nothing worse than hearing someone answer a question you know they haven’t fully listened to. Aside from coming across rude, it doesn’t give the interviewer much confidence in your ability to pay attention.
Listen intently to everything the interviewer says from the minute they walk through the door. Not only does it enable you to answer questions properly, it helps you ask the right ones too. By picking up on things throughout the conversation and asking specific questions, they’ll know you’re being attentive. Which is a crucial skill in any workplace.
Speak with Confidence
Now, it has to be said there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. But it’s not enough for you to believe in your abilities alone. You have to convince the interviewer you’re right for the role. This requires a bit of self-selling which many people find difficult.
The best thing to do is not overdo it, remember you wouldn’t be at the interview if they weren’t interested. Simply practising and preparing ahead of time can help you come across more self-assured.
Go over your CV to remember what you’ve included because you will be asked about it. Re-reading the job spec a few times can also help remind you of the qualities you need to meet. Plus, you’re entitled to be proud of what you’ve achieved so far. So don’t be afraid to let that show when you’re discussing your skills and achievements.
Choose your Words
A good vocabulary can go a long way but don’t use overly complicated language, especially if you wouldn’t normally. It’ll come over as disingenuous at best or uncomfortable at worst. You will do far better by speaking plainly and confidently.
Your interviewer will also be listening out for your use of industry terminology, methodologies and other familiar phrases that suggest you have the knowledge and skills they need.
Also, remember not to get too comfortable. Interviews may be less formal these days but swearing or speaking like you’re chatting with an old friend isn’t the way to go. You’re talking to a potential employer, so be sure to keep it professional.
Don’t Talk Too Much
Closely linked with talking too quickly but talking too much can also be a grave error. This often comes with being unprepared and clutching at straws to fill the silence in your answers.
Rambling can tell the interviewer many things but ultimately that you lack confidence, skills or the experience required. Shorter answers that tick all the boxes prove that you’re a sharpshooter when it comes to your work. Be succinct and only talk long enough to communicate your point so you don’t talk yourself out of a job.
Consider Questions and Answer Carefully
You can certainly practice how you would answer questions before your interview. But there will always be questions that require you to think on your feet. Often these come in the shape of behavioural interview questions. Such as when interviewers ask for examples of times you did something or how you managed certain situations.
These questions are designed to elicit samples of your past behaviours. And the interviewer knows you won’t have the perfect answer ready to roll off the tongue. So, don’t worry about taking a moment to consider your response. You might not have a specific example, but you need to think of one that relates somehow. Otherwise, you’ll miss an opportunity to prove your ability and talk about your skills.
Try to think of examples where you have excelled or overcome a challenging situation in advance and write them down. Remember, it’s perfectly acceptable to go into an interview with notes and prepared examples. It demonstrates a higher level of commitment.
Ask Them Questions
One of the biggest missed opportunities in interviews is not asking the interviewer any questions when prompted. When this comes around at the close of the interview, be armed with a few questions you’ve prepared beforehand.
Asking questions gives you the opportunity to ascertain the company culture, management style and how things work in more detail. You’re not being difficult by asking about their people and processes. Rather, you’re showing your interest and finding out if the company is the right fit for you. As well as the other way around.
You may even have picked up on things during the interview that you’d like to clarify. Which goes to show you’ve been paying attention throughout and have found value in what’s been discussed.
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