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Job interview skills
The art of being interviewed

Your job interview skills will have a direct bearing on whether you get the job, or not.

You might be exceptional at what you do, but if you don't have the right skills on display during the interview your expertise will count for very little.

The great news is.....if you know you don't interview well, and aren't confident about what to do, you CAN learn how.

How do you learn interview skills?

Developing your skill in being interviewed involves understanding what the interviewer/s see and hear when you are communicating with them during the interview.

When you know what interviewers look for to choose the ideal candidate, you can adapt your interviewing style appropriately

Yes....you do have to give good answers to the interview questions. But, what you say when answering questions is only a very small part of what you have to do to create a good impression with interviewers.

Job Interview Tips

Many people don't apply for jobs because they have a real fear of not being able to do the interview well.

Let me re-assure you. There is a skill in interviewing well, in fact there are a number of job interview skills you'll need to apply.

But here's the good news....

Your job interview skills can be developed and improved. If you don't have them, you can learn them, or, if you don't do them very well, with practice, the right sort practice, you CAN improve your skills significantly.

The job interview skills that you'll want to develop are the subject of this web page.

Job interview skills - it's about communication

Did you know that when we communicate face to face with others, the listener determines the meaning of the message we are trying to convey in three ways?

And.....here's the relevance to developing your job interview skills. If you know how the listener interprets what you say, in this case the interviewer or interview panel, then you can practice the skills you use to communicate, so that you get understood in the way you'd like to be understood.

So, how is meaning conveyed in face to face communication? When you communicate, the meaning of what you are communicating is conveyed in these three ways:

  • Verbally - Through the words you use (obviously!) - this however accounts for only 7% of the meaning of your message.
  • Vocally - through the way you say your words - this includes things like the tone of your voice, speed of speaking, clarity in pronouncing your words, pitch or inflection and so on. This accounts for 38% of the overall meaning of your message.
  • Visually - through our facial expressions, body posture, gestures and other accompanying body language. This element accounts for 55% of the meaning of what you are trying to say.

Job Interview Tips

The biggest fear most people have about interviews is saying the wrong thing.....in other words giving a wrong answer, and making a fool of oneself.

The fact is, what we say in an interview, the words we use, have very little impact - remember only 7% of the meaning comes from our words.

This should put this fear of interviewing in its place. You're not going muck up your interview by saying the wrong thing.

The interviewers aren't listening so much to what you say in answer to their questions, they are instead really tuning in to how you say it!

This means that, in terms of developing your job interview skills, practice your delivery technique - that is, how you use your voice, your facial expressions and accompanying body language.

As part of your job interview preparation, practice saying your answers out loud,, and in front of a mirror!!

This is a simple way of developing your job interview skills - practising the way you deliver your message, not just the words you want to say.

Job interview skills
How to make a great impression

Clearly then, success in an interview isn't so much about what you say, it's more about how you say it.

Go to this page, which covers the job interview process in more detail. It explains just how and what the interviewer, or interview panel, are looking out for when making their selection about the best candidate.

As you'll see there, of far greater importance than having the right skills and knowledge for the job, are things like your attitude and motivation, your likeability, and whether you will fit into their team or organisation.

You convey that you have these important attributes through the way you communicate.

First impressions are really, really important!

Making a favourable first impression is critical to your chances of success. Knowing how to make a good impression will be among the more important job interview skills you'll need to develop.

There is a sound psychological basis for the fact that first impressions are lasting impressions.

The theory goes something like this. When we meet someone for the first time we tend to make instant judgments about them. These judgments are based on things like personal appearance, and yes.....the way the person communicates (verbally, vocally and non-verbally) with us in those first few seconds and minutes.

These judgments, accurate or not, reflect our perception of the other person. And our perception of them becomes our reality. As we continue to interact with that person, our brain, through our senses, is actively looking for information that confirms and reinforces that the initial judgment we have made is correct.

In an interview situation then, this means that the interviewer/s are (usually sub consciously)looking for confirmation that their initial judgments about you are correct.

In terms of developing or enhancing your job interview skills then, you had better know how to make an outstanding first impression.

How to make an outstanding first impression

If you don't already know how to do this, here are some suggestions:

  • Take exceptional care that your personal appearance and grooming is first class - this is a loud non-verbal expression about some of your standards and values.
  • During the introductions make eye contact with each person you meet, and remember to smile.
  • If members of the panel offer to shake hands do so, with a firm handshake.
  • Be conscious of what you say, and how you say it, during the introduction.
  • Avoid the ritualistic "pleased to meet you". Try saying something like "I'm delighted to meet you at last, I've really been looking forward to this". Make your tone of voice upbeat, energetic, enthusiastic.
  • If you can, remember to use the names of each person as you are introduced. For example "I'm delighted to meet you at last Jennifer....."
  • Don't use exactly the same way of greeting each person on the panel - you'll sound like a well rehearsed robot!
  • Have a well prepared answer to likely first questions in the interview - ensure you get off to a confident, energetic, and engaging start to the interview.....so that you confirm the good impressions you have already made during the introductions.

All of the things in the foregoing list are job interview skills that can be practised over and over again, and developed.

The importance in the job interview process of the introduction and beginning stage must not be underestimated.

You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.

Job interview skills - sell the benefits

One of the most important things you can communicate during an interview is your enthusiasm for the job you are applying for, and your desire to work for the organisation where the job exists.

One way you can do this is to create the perception that you already see yourself working at this job and in this organisation.

How? Try to find a way to use these two words....."which means"

People who work in sales know that their clients buy benefits, not features. Remember, an interview is your opportunity to sell what you have to offer the employer.

Describe some of your key features as benefits and you will be doing something that many people in an interview fail to do - that is, sell the benefit to their future employer, of their knowledge, skill, education and experience.

How to sell the benefits of hiring you

During an interview you will often be asked questions like:

  • What are your strengths?
  • Why should we hire you?

A person who isn't well prepared will usually list some key points about their skill or knowledge and leave it at that.

Here's some important job interview advice.

Use these questions to point out not only what skills and experience you have to offer, but go one step further.

Explain the benefit of your skills and experience in relation to the job for which you are being interviewed.

Here's an example. Let's say the job involves lots of relationship building with clients. And....one of the key skills you bring is your well developed interpersonal communication skills.

In answer to a question like "What are your strengths?" your answer could be something like:

"I think that I have really good communication skills; I seem to be able to develop a rapport with other people quite easily. What this means is that in doing this job you can be confident in my ability to make a good impression with clients, and to establish strong professional relationships with them."

In using the term "which means" you are explaining the benefit to them of your good communication skills.

To develop this job interview skill, open a document, or get a piece of paper and draw up two columns:

  • In left hand column make a list of all the skills, knowledge and experience that you have which are relevant to the job you are being interviewed for.
  • In the right hand column list as many benefits as you can against each item that you've listed.....benefits to the organisation, and the benefit of having these attributes in carrying out the job.

Job interview skills
Last impressions are important too!

Plan to finish the interview on a high note.

Your interview could quite possibly last somewhere between 30 minutes to an hour. That's a long time to remain energetic and enthusiastic. Now here's something to consider......the interview panel gets tired too.

What often also happens, if they have interviewed a number of other candidates before getting to you, is that it sometimes becomes difficult for members of the panel to recall details about individual candidates.

For this reason it is important that you keep your energy levels up for the whole of the interview - the interview panel will tend to remember "how" you communicated, rather than your actual words.

To ensure they have positive and lasting recall of you, plan some closing comments.

How to close the interview positively

Many interview candidates "lose their steam" during the interview.

When asked if they would like to say anything else before the interview finishes, they fail to take the opportunity to leave a lasting impression by making a closing statement.

Here's another piece of job interview advice - if you are asked, always make a closing statement.

How to make a closing statement

Make your closing statement short and to the point:

  • Reiterate your interest in the position, and/or in working for the organisation.
  • You could, without going over the top, explain that you are even more keen about the position as a result of what you've learned during the interview.
  • Try to again express your confidence that you are capable of meeting, or exceeding, the performance expectations of the interview panel - as a result of the skills and experience you bring to the job.

One more tip for the end of interview - always find out what the next steps in the selection process are, AND when these are likely to occur.

Armed with this information you can follow up with the interview panel if the indicated next steps haven't taken place in the suggested time frame.

Job interview skills - managing your attitude

This is also one of the more important job interview skills you'll need to develop.

The attitude you have towards the interview, and the expectations you have about your own performance during the interview is a crucial element that will contribute to a successful, or otherwise, interview.

And for some people, mastering this job interview skill might take practice!

How do you manage your attitude? The first thing you can do is listen to your self-talk. Does it sound like:

  • I'm really looking forward to this interview, it will be an interesting experience.
  • I'm sure that with the preparation I'm doing that I'll be able to perform competently during the interview.
  • I intend to do my best during the interview.

OR, does your self-talk sound like:

  • I know I'm going to be nervous, I hope I don't muck it up.
  • I hate interviews, I just know I'll say something stupid.
  • I've never been good at interviews, I hope this works out alright.

Which of the two above approaches do you think are likely to be most helpful?

Develop the habit of having a positive expectation about your ability to perform in an interview. In life, we generally get what we expect!

If you find negative thoughts coming into your mind, remember that you can choose to stop these any time you like, and replace them with more positive and appropriate thoughts.

Job interview skills - summary

The key points we've covered here are as follows:

  • A job interview is an exercise in face to face communication.
  • With sufficient job interview preparation you can practice the skills which will help you to create a positive impression during the interview.
  • Positive impressions are created not so much by what you say, but how you say it.
  • Therefore when preparing for an interview, practice out loud, and in front of a mirror.

New! Comments

Has this helped you in your job search? What else would you like to see here about job search? Leave me a comment in the box below.
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