In a job interview, you have precious time to make your case to your prospective employer. Even if you go into an interview with an impressive resume and ample experience, communication skills are vital to impart upon the interviewer why you deserve the job as well as simply convince him that you would fit in well in the workplace. Below are five important skills to keep in mind regarding your communication.
The interviewer will probably see a dozen people just like you today, and his time is valuable. The quickest way to have one lose interest in you is to bore him with a long, drawn-out story that may or may not actually address the question you were asked. An overly long answer suggests unpreparedness and a lack of substance, seeking to make up for it with simple time spent speaking.
Always make sure that your answers are on point with the topic under discussion; the best way to do this is to know roughly what you will be saying ahead of time through ample interview preparation. A practice partner willing to call you out if you start to ramble can help tremendously.
Every answer to an interview question should flow like a miniature speech. Most of the time you should have a good idea what the major questions will be when you go into an interview, which means you can prepare an outline of an answer ahead of time. This is especially true for complex or multi-part questions. If the interviewer cannot follow your explanation easily, your answer will get lost in your words.
Begin a complicated answer with a framing statement giving an overview of what you are about to describe so she can follow along. As you come to each new part of your answer, use a verbal “sub-heading” to keep the interviewer with you. Once you finish your explanation, quickly sum up the answer you just gave, and end with a question inviting the interviewer to respond to signify that you are finished.
Logic is vital when explaining anything to anybody: it is the foundation that all arguments are built upon. Using a logical flow when presenting your answers to the interviewer allows her to follow your line of thinking and be substantially more inclined to agree with your eventual conclusions. Logic is closely tied with structure, since the order you present your evidence is very important.
In general, when rehearsing your answers, make sure that the interviewer is led into your conclusion by the evidence you are presenting, without any gaps along the way (a practice partner is especially helpful for this). For example, present a specific example and use that to bridge the gap into talking about a general situation; or the reverse, using a familiar and relatable experience and applying it to a specific event. Frequently point out cause and effect relationships. Above all, avoid making claims that are unsubstantiated by evidence.
4. Eye Contact
Most of us have been told to make eye contact to improve communication our whole lives, but that does not make it any easier for those with an aversion to it. Eye contact makes you more relatable and likable to your conversation partner, indicates that you respect her, and that you have her undivided attention. Perhaps more importantly, if your eyes are wandering throughout the interview, you will appear disinterested in the proceedings – and if you aren’t interested in the interview, why should you be hired for the job?
It’s important to note that you should avoid staring down the interviewer for the entire time you’re there, as no one enjoys being stared at. Find a natural balance. Again, a practice partner willing to give you an honest assessment is very helpful.
No one is expecting a radio host to interview for the position they have available, but that does not mean that you can slur, mumble, and stumble over your speech in an interview and expect to get full marks. Careless speech of any kind suggests carelessness in work, and can ruin a first impression – vital when you only have a few minutes to make an impression of any kind. The best way to train your speech is to record yourself talking and play it back, listening for anything that comes out too quickly or is hard to understand.
If you impressed the hiring manager enough to get the interview, then your experience, education, and other bullet point qualifications are already good enough to get you the job. The interview is for the company to get to know you, and for you to put the best image forward for the company. By practicing and refining your communication skills to go along with your resume, you can make yourself the standout applicant for any position you desire.
About the Author: Dunya Carter is a marketing and HR consultant and blogger from Brisbane. Dunya blogs on career development topics at HR Zone, and she also wrote articles for many top business and recruitment websites including Brazen Life, The Fordyce Letter, College Recruiter and others. This article was inspired by job search ideas from Ochre Recruitment, experienced medical recruiters from Australia. You can connect with Dunya via Twitter.