Successful job seekers must master several skills to ace the interview. Among those are verbal and non-verbal communication skills. These can make or break our career opportunities. How aware are you of your verbal and non-verbal habits? Do they help or hinder your job prospects in an interview situation? In the following post, we’ll explore some fundamentals to help you optimize your verbal and non-verbal communication skills for job seeking success. A critical step to an understanding of our own skills starts with analysis.
Mock Interviews & Expert Feedback
Mock interviews can be a great place to develop an understanding our current capacities and limitations. These should be conducted, recorded and reviewed by an experienced communications coach. In this process many things will come to light (that we may not be consciously aware of) that effect our interview outcomes such as:
- Awareness of body language vocabulary – Body language is critical but so is its many expressions. Body language, just like our message content involves an entire diverse vocabulary. It’s not just our effective use of eye contact, open body language or welcoming smile – but rather the entire expression of body language throughout our communication. As much as we take time to write the content of our speech, we should practice the non-verbal’s we bring to our delivery.
- Awareness of our ineffective non-verbal habits – Many of our non-verbal communications is beyond our conscious awareness and or driven by habits. The good news is we can develop an awareness of those ineffective habits and practice skills that make us more effective. Many of my students are unaware of the fact that they use closed body language, self-soothing gestures or have a ‘resting face’ which doesn’t match with what they are attempting to convey. Training helps a communicator be aware of their less than effective non-verbal habits and replace them with effective ones.
- Awareness of vocal habits – How we say something speaks volumes. The simple deliver of our message with pitch, volume and pace adds meaning — beyond the words we say. In the context of an interview if we are in the habit of making common mistakes such as volumes of filler words, upspeak, vocal fry we are less than effective. A quivering and diminutive voice can lead to an employer assuming a variety of negative things that might not be accurate. Vocally our delivery should speak to self confidence and show the best of who we are.
Optimal Interview Delivery
Optimizing your interview requires a variety of skills be conscientiously practiced. We need not be perfect but we should strive to show the best of ourselves. Here are several that will more likely yield a call back for a 2nd interview or a job offer:
- Eye contact – Eye contact is a critical nonverbal cue we send to the person(s) we are speaking to. It signifies we mean to connect with them, respect them and hope they will be open to our communication. Effective eye contact says to the party you are communicating with that you are present and focused on communicating our message.
- Open & confident body language – Open and confident body language is key to non-verbally communicating we are calm, confident and fully present. Common mistakes such as arm-crossing, fidgeting or holding our arms behind us, convey less than optimal messages. Closed body language makes the employer assume the worst of our communication, our opinion of ourselves and undermines our efforts. Open body language assumes we sit/stand upright and use a vocabulary of non-verbals without ‘closing off’ with crossed arms, slouching posture or other ineffective non-verbals.
- Confident vocal delivery – Confident vocal delivery is just as critical for interview success. We should be mindful of our pitch, volume, pace, etc. Our vocal delivery should convey calm confidence that shows the best of who we are. We should minimize filler words and clearly articulate our message. We should steer clear of the most problematic vocal habits of speaking to quickly, failing to enunciate or not using our full vocal range. Our vocal delivery should be optimized in an interview setting to show the best of who we are.
- Mind your resting face – Our resting face speaks as much as our verbal content. The ‘resting face’ is the base line facial expression we make when we are communicating. We should be aware this conveys a powerful message to an audience that can make or break our communication. If we remember that our face needs to be congruent with our message, we have internalized a truism that will yield better communications outcomes in interviews and elsewhere.
- Mind your emotional state – Our emotional state is also critical to interview success. Most people are somewhat nervous when facing an interview and this is entirely natural. The root of these emotional experiences is often that we fear rejection and the real-world consequences of not attaining the desired role. We should instead look at a job interview as a place to practice our emotional intelligence skills. If you, like most, experience some anxiety instead practice relaxation techniques so you are calm and focused.
In your next interview be aware of your verbal and nonverbal delivery and optimize it. Use the skills outlined in this post for your next interview. Here’s to your ongoing career success! Please leave a question or comment below, we’d love to hear from you.