Sound Bites: Interview Communication Skills
By Carolyn Heinze, Contributing Editor
Article Sponsored by: USAA
Ever watched someone being interviewed on television and wondered how that person got to be so smooth-talking? Even when these types of people pause, they cover all of the important points without breaking a sweat.
Judy Kaplan Baron, PhD, a San Diego, Calif.-based master career counselor, notes that one of the main goals during a job interview is to develop a rapport with the interviewer. "If you're not developing rapport with your interviewers, it doesn't matter how qualified you are," she said. "They are less likely to hire somebody that they don't like."
By adding that question onto the end of your response, you give the interviewer the opportunity to request another example, perhaps one that is more work-related. "If they say no, then the likelihood is that you've got all the points that you can probably get for that question," Kaplan Baron said. "If they say, 'Sure, go ahead,' or 'whatever you like,' I'd give them another example, because there may be some room there for you to gain more points."
Linda Matias, certified interview coach at Career Strides in Smithtown, N.Y., and author of '201 Knockout Answers to Tough Interview Questions: The Ultimate Guide to Handling the New Competency-Based Interview Style,' notes that job candidates are afraid of silence, which can lead them to make a tactical interview error. "If the interviewer does not respond verbally after the candidate feels that they have finished saying all that they have to say, the candidate may continue talking," she illustrated. She cautions against feeling pressured to fill in that pause or, if you really are uncomfortable, turn the situation around by asking a question.
The reality is, however, that sometimes job candidates do get tripped up, and when this happens, it's important not to get defensive. In some cases, the interviewer may be acting hostile as a test. "If someone finds that during an interview, the interviewer is pushy and rude, chances are it's part of the interview process - they're doing that for a reason," Matias explained. "It could be because the job is very stressful and they're trying to see how the candidate reacts in stressful situations. A big mistake is that people have a defensive tone when they are being put on the spot."
As Kaplan Baron points out, job candidates should bear in mind that most interviewers are not well-trained in the art of interviewing. Therefore, there may be pauses when it's incumbent on the interviewee to determine whether, at that moment, it's appropriate to ask a question: 'Tell me a little bit about what you would want me to accomplish in my first three to six months here. Who would I be reporting to directly? What are some of the issues that the person in this position might be facing?' The goal, she says, is to put the interviewer at ease. "If the interviewer is more at ease, the interviewer is going to feel more comfortable with you. If the interviewer is more comfortable with you, they like you more. If they like you more, you tend to get higher scores on the interview," she said.
While your skills, qualifications, experience and attitude are key factors in determining whether or not you get the job, Kaplan Baron underlines that a significant variable in the final decision is your personality. "People don't want to hire robots; they want to hire people that they're going to feel comfortable working with," she said. If you don't allow some of your personality to come through, they won't know what you're really like. "Be natural and allow part of your personality to come out so that they can see you." And, if you don't get the offer, it's probably a good thing. "You could get hired if you didn't allow your personality to come out, and it might be a terrible fit. Wouldn't you rather know that beforehand?"
Carolyn Heinze is a freelance writer/editor.
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