By: Stacey Hanke
In today’s competitive environment and desire for hiring the best of the best, there is no room for the mediocre candidate. We have heard it before; people buy people. You can be the smartest person in the world but if you cannot connect with your interviewer, build a relationship immediately with them or communicate your knowledge, it doesn’t matter how smart you are.
A competitive environment absolutely requires communication that is clear, concise, to the point and relevant. The following six survival steps will be critical to the results you receive. These skills and techniques will build trust and create relationships which are the elements to influencing action.
- Be Consistent – Be careful! Does your body language say one thing and your words say another? We are unaware of what others see and hear when we communicate. You cannot afford to take this risk. Pay attention to what your body language communicates. Does your posture communicate confidence or uncertainty? Do you walk into the room like you belong there? Do you walk with purpose or concern? Are you prepared or are you winging it?
- You avoid miscommunication!
- Your interviewer perceives you as credible, confident, knowledgeable and someone they want to hire.
- Pre-Plan – Take five minutes to pre-plan what you want to convey; the value you bring and what makes you different. Use bullet points so that you can quickly refer to your plan and stay on track during the interview. Be clear about the purpose of why you are applying for the job and your level of interest. Don’t make your interviewer guess at these reasons. When you are specific with your purpose and the value you bring, you will influence your interviewee to take action on you.
- Guarantees you do not miss anything. How many times have you walked away from a conversation and said to yourself, “I wish I would have said …” or “I wish I wouldn’t have said …”
- Communicates you really want this job based on the effort and time you put into the interview.
- Builds your confidence walking into the interview because not only do you know you are ready; you feel ready.
- PAUSE – Stop rambling, speak in shorter sentences and pause at the end of your sentences, in between your thoughts or to emphasize a point. We tend to say way too much, which will confuse your interviewer. As a result they hear a different message than what you intended. You only have one shot to make a first impression. Do you want that first impression to communicate a lack of knowledge and confidence?
- Allows you to prioritize your thoughts, think on your feet and avoid rambling.
- Gives your interviewer a chance to hear and understand your message.
- Invites your interviewer to share the conversation with you. You will be able to adjust your message based on their needs and expectations.
- Allows you to collect your thoughts and breathe to r-e-l-a-x. Pausing helps you gain control of your message and appear confident and knowledgeable.
- Time is precious for everyone! When you pause you are able to communicate more information in less time because you are saying fewer words and giving yourself permission to think on your feet. This prevents you from rambling and wasting your interviewer’s time.
- Manage Gestures – Avoid fidgeting with your pen, fingers, rings, etc. Use gestures that have purpose and emphasize your message. Expand your arms from your sides to avoid “talking with your hands.”
- Gestures add emphasis and impact to your message. Our words alone are not memorable. You ARE the message. Bring your message alive by creating a visual for your interviewer.
- You and your message will be more memorable.
- Gestures increase the amount of information your interviewer remembers and helps influence them to take action on you.
- When the heat is on, gestures help you channel your adrenaline and nervous energy.
- Help you add energy and inflection to your voice to convey excitement and interest.
- Make Eye Connection – Look at your interviewer when you are talking to them. I know what you are thinking: “I do.” The majority of individuals I work with frequently look away during their conversations. When speaking in a face-to-face situation, you will tend to connect longer than with more than one. To avoid a discomforting stare, give your eyes and your interviewer’s eyes a break by looking away periodically. You may want to refer to your notes or off to the side.
When speaking to two or more interviewers, complete one sentence or thought per person. Only speak when you are connecting with one person. Avoid the temptation to speak to your notes, your interviewer’s shoulders or the top of their head.
If you cannot look at your interviewer when you talk, how do you expect them to trust and believe what you are saying?
- Creates trust.
- Allows you to stay focused and on track with your message.
- Engages your interviewer.
- You are able to read your interviewer. Their body language tells you how your message is being received and identifies when they have objections.
- Ask for Feedback – If you REALLY want to apply the above skills and techniques you MUST ask for feedback. Following an interview, take five minutes to give yourself feedback. On a piece of paper create two vertical columns. Title the first column “What worked?” and the second column “What didn’t work?” Identify three to four areas of improvement versus listing ten.
Then list the action steps you can take that will guarantee improvement and the action steps you can take today. Your action steps need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely if you want to accomplish them.
How do you want to be perceived? How do you want to stand out from the crowd? It is not only what you know but how you deliver and present yourself.
||Stacey Hanke is co-author of the book; Yes You Can! Everything You Need From A To Z To Influence Others To Take Action (Author House, 2008). Her book provides practical and immediate skills and techniques that have given thousands the ability to be at their personal best in all face-to-face communication.
As a seasoned presenter and coach, she has more than 10,000 individuals on her client list both nationally and internationally. She has delivered over 500 presentations for business leaders in the financial industry to the healthcare industry to government and everyone in between. Her area of expertise lies in offering practical skills and techniques that build confidence and credibility into leadership, client relationships and our personal lives.