The way you communicate in a job interview will make or break your chances of getting the job. It doesn’t matter if you’re the most qualified person on paper if you can’t speak confidently about your talents and accomplishments.
Here are five communication mistakes you need to avoid during a job interview:
Body language that signals you’re bored or stressed.
Nonverbal communication is just as powerful as the words you speak. You could give all the right answers in your interview but never make eye contact with the hiring manager, keep looking up at the clock, or have your arms crossed the entire time. Even with great answers, these nonverbal cues could cost you the job, because they make you seem disinterested or closed off.
You’ll want to avoid slouching, fidgeting, bouncing your legs, looking at your phone, watch, or clock on the wall, and crossing your arms. The first set of behaviors alert the hiring manager to your nerves and looking at your phone or watch comes across as rude and as if you’re looking to get out of there. Crossing your arms can come across as defensive, closed off, or uptight.
To avoid looking bored or stressed, sit up straight and pay attention to what you’re doing with your arms and hands. You can be animated and use gestures or keep your hands still, whichever matches your personality.
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When answering questions, keep your answers concise. The longer your answer, the less memorable it is. Short statements allow you to focus on sharing the most important information, which makes it easier for the hiring manager to remember key points. You don’t want to risk them not remembering something important just because your answer was too long.
If you know that you’re prone to giving long answers, imagine that you’re answering in bullet points rather than paragraphs. Practice giving brief statements in mock interviews. Try timing yourself and cut yourself off after a set period of time. When you practice like this you can learn to keep your answers short and concise.
Being too rehearsed.
You don’t want to come off as a robot in your interview, which can happen if you over-rehearse your answers. Being too rehearsed means your focus will be more on delivering the monologue you’ve practiced rather than being in the moment. You also run the risk of answering with less emotion and passion, which can make you seem disinterested.
Instead of practicing your answers verbatim, make flashcards with key points you want to talk about. You’ll be able to recall those points but still speak freely in the interview.
Never complain about anything in an interview – not your previous boss, coworkers, company, or anything. Complaining makes you sound unprofessional and spiteful, neither of which are attractive qualities for a prospective employee.
To talk about a negative situation, try to frame it as a learning experience. If you had problems with previous coworkers or a boss, talk about how you learned about your working style and ways you like to work as a team. Instead of focusing on the negative, you’ve showcased your self-awareness and willingness to learn.
While you might be tempted to bend the truth to make yourself seem more qualified or more experienced, it’s not something you should do. You don’t want to risk telling a lie in the first interview then saying something different in the next because you forgot what you said and lied about.
The best way to ensure that you don’t make these mistakes is to go into the interview well prepared. Review your resume so you’re prepared to answer questions about your work history and job responsibilities, research the company, and think about how you’ll present yourself overall.