Good communication skills can mean the difference between success and failure in job interviews. If you are stalling at interviews, communication skills could be the problem. Here are four things to focus on to improve communication skills in interviews:
Two Way is the Best Way
Good interviews always involve two way communication. If you are doing all the talking, you are not making the most of the opportunity. The simplest way to avoid this problem is to end your answers with a question back to the interviewer. For example, if the interviewer asks about your use of a software program, you can share your experience concisely, and then respond with “How would I be using the program in this position?” Do not let the interview to lapse into question and answer format. Focus on making it a conversation.
Asking the Right Questions
Asking good questions can help control the flow of the interview and will give you valuable information. Ask probing questions throughout the interview. Do not wait until the end when the interviewer says “Do you have any questions for me?” Instead, regularly ask for more detail on the job, the department, the challenges being faced, how things work and where things are not working well. For example, you may ask how the role interfaces with other departments, or you may say “How many groups are involved in a new product roll-out” or “What role would this person play in your new marketing push?” Not only do questions show your interest, but they supply you with vital details which you can use as you share your expertise and fit.
Listening and Responding
As your interviewer speaks, your listening skills are critical. Your goal is to learn all you can, including the problems that need solving. As you pick up on details, use them to highlight your match and how you are qualified to solve those problems. If you have trouble thinking that quickly under pressure, you may restate what you are hearing to get clarity and during that time, formulate your reply. For example, you may say “It sounds like expansion into overseas markets is a big challenge right now, is that correct?” While your interviewer answers, consider how you can be part of the solution and respond.
Taking notes while listening is sometimes helpful. Underline significant points and opportunities to show your match, then look for ways to circle back when the time is right.
Keep it Concise
Short, focused communication in interviews is more effective than long winded answers. Give a brief answer first then ask the interviewer if he or she would like more detail. Punctuating your answers with great stories is also effective. Have a number of them prepared and always make sure they are very directly applicable to the question and to the needs of the company. Do not share a story just because you had it prepared!