It wasn’t being late, or even lacking company knowledge that was the biggest complaint. The number one turn-off for hiring managers was poor communication skills, according to a recent survey published in Staffing Management, a journal of the Society of Human Resource Management. Noted as particularly displeasing were inarticulate answers to interview questions, and vague accounts of past experience.
Ironically, a candidate can and should have the answers to interview questions mastered long before they ever walk into the hiring manager’s office. Whether it’s an interview for a new job or an internal promotion (Internal hiring is UP! 53% of management jobs are filled from within the company ranks.) you can stand out as a well qualified candidate by following these guidelines:
Prepare answers in advance. Write out your answers to the typical and tough questions. Keep your responses concise, factual, and packed with specifics. Use a conversational tone and answer in less than 60 seconds in order to keep the interviewer’s attention. Role-play your answers to help you become more confident in your replies.
Paint a picture. Give an example of what you’ve done by citing a true situation. These details help the employer visualize how you would perform on their job, and effectively confirms you as a good potential hire. Many interviewers now prompt for these situational examples (i.e., asking you to describe a recent mistake you made on the job that you were criticized for), so advanced preparation IS essential.
Determine a 5 Point Agenda. This is your customized hiring strategy - your top five selling points, a summary of your key talents, accomplishments, and experience. The 5 Point Agenda focuses the interview on your strengths as well as your ability to meet the employers’ needs and get the job done. Review the position needs to determine which of your abilities will be most important to the employer. Select five points that build a solid picture emphasizing how you can do their job (i.e., years of experience, specific accomplishments). Stress each of these points in the interview whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Pay attention to non-verbal clues. Employers evaluate what they hear, while lending credence to what they see. Nervous gestures, such as playing with your hair or tapping your fingers, can absorb their attention. A sincere smile sends a warm, confident message. Eye contact is one of the important things employers notice about you. It is crucial and conveys that your message is believable. Practice until it is second nature to look at the person when answering a question.
Ask the right questions. A top manager at AT&T told me: “I judge candidates by the questions they ask. That’s what’s most revealing to me. I want someone focused on succeeding in the job and not just centered around how much money I will pay them.” Come to the interview with a typed list of questions. Use this time to gain insight on their corporate culture. Ask about the specific job duties. This is NOT the time to bring up any questions about salary or benefits.