There are several things to keep in mind when preparing for an interview. Researching the company, dressing professionally and being prompt are certainly crucial to your success. Yet the most important factor of the interview – the way in which you communicate, is often overlooked.
There are many books dedicated to the subject of interviewing, but many do not tell us how to communicate effectively. Some popular books may give you advice on how to control the interview conversation, but this isn’t the same as effective communication. If you adopt this style, you run the risk of using your allotted interview time talking, but not supplying the information necessary to be considered for the job. (Another thing to remember before trying to control the interview – experienced interviewers know exactly what you are trying to do and it’s not particularly appreciated.)
On the flip side of the “interview controller” is the applicant who says very little during the interview. Personally, I find this type of interview the most frustrating. One memorable applicant gave me one or two word responses to ten open ended questions in a row. I was forced to disqualify him even though he may have possessed the required skills for the position. Remember, an interviewer’s job is not to forcibly extract information, but to gather it.
Your goal in communicating effectively during the interview should be to find a happy medium between the scenarios described above. The easiest way to decide when and how much to talk is to pay close attention to the interviewer. Listen for the difference between open and closed ended questions. For example, questions that begin with “tell me about” or “describe” do not merit one word responses. On the other hand, don’t go into a long monologue on questions that were designed for a yes or no response.
Another clue to interpreting how much you should talk is to watch the interviewer’s body language. If you answer a question briefly and the interviewer continues to look at you expectantly, go on to explain further. If you are talking and the interviewer is looking at his or her notes for the next question, you should begin wrapping up your answer to that question.
In order to best utilize your limited interview time, talk about what you have achieved rather than your opinions. For example, if you were the top salesperson at your last job, use that experience to answer questions such as “Tell me about your last position” or “What do you feel your strengths are?” Summarize concisely your accomplishments, giving actual figures if possible.
This always impresses an interviewer more than generalities or opinions such as “I am a really hard worker.” The best part of using this approach is that you can be brief and to the point with your answers. There’s no need for a long explanation to convince the interviewer, because you have stated things that you have actually accomplished rather than opinions.How to Communicate in a Job Interview; Communication Tips for Interviewing by Granted Contributor