If you want to make a good impression at an interview, you have to use language that engages the interviewer. Top employees are those who communicate effectively and openly. In an interview, especially a nerve-racking one, it’s easy to accidentally end up with your foot in your mouth. Instead, put your best foot forward and avoid these common communication mistakes.
1. Closed body language
You are in a constant state of communication. Even when you aren’t talking, your body is speaking volumes.
When you’re nervous, it’s comforting to cross your arms and protect yourself. But, the message you’re sending is that you are passive and not approachable. Keep your arms uncrossed, hands out of your pockets and eyes on the interviewer.
Use your body to say, “I’m here, I’m open and I’m listening.”
You may be eager to answer a question because you’ve prepared a perfect response. But interruptions and over-talking is a way for your body to release its jitters. Don’t give in to the temptation to blurt something out!
Wait for the interviewer to finish their thought. Don’t try to complete their sentences.
Communication is not all about talking. More often, speaking less and actively listening are signs of positive communication.
3. Not reflecting you’re listening
The interview is as much about understanding as it is being understood.
If you’re only focused on your response and ruminating on your answers, you may be missing everything the interviewer is saying.
Let them know you’re listening.
The easiest way to let someone know that you’re listening is, in fact, to really listen. The second-best way is to reflect back what they’ve said, use their language and ask them to tell you more.
4. Getting off topic
If you haven’t been listening, it’s likely that you will also get off topic.
If you have been listening, it’s still smart to have clear goals and objectives when entering the interview to make sure your messages are consistent and clear.
This isn’t to say that you should avoid small talk. Small talk is a great way to show interest and open the floor for interesting dialogue. But, keep in mind there’s a fine line between small talk and telling irrelevant, overly detailed, long winded, lengthy, aimless, rambling (you get the point) stories.
If you do find that you’ve digressed to make a point, restating what the question was and summarizing your answer is a great way to have a clean landing.
5. Using passive or aggressive language
Passive communication sends the message that you value others over yourself. This is displayed through avoiding eye contact, slumping in a chair and speaking quietly.
Aggressive communication sends the message that you value yourself over others and is demonstrated through interrupting, talking loudly over others and using large, intimidating expressions.
Use assertive communication to send the message that you value both yourself and the needs of the company. This means both asking and answering questions about company needs, setting clear boundaries, communicating flexibility, keeping open body language, confidently stating your strengths and, again, actively listening.
6. Having a closed mind
Having a closed mind means you are uncompromising. Behaviors that demonstrate a closed mind are becoming defensive when challenged, being more interested in speaking than listening, being inflexible to change, jumping to conclusions and stating opinions as truth.
Companies often value someone who is willing to adapt.
This is not to say that you should do whatever they ask you to. You can still set clear boundaries and demonstrate that you’re willing to engage in new concepts.
The best way to demonstrate an open mind is to be curious.
7. Using too many buzzwords
You’re a person. They’re a person. And no one actually knows what “bandwidth” is.
Using too many corporate buzzwords makes you sound inauthentic and inserts strange hiccups into the conversation.
Be naturally conversational and show your human side.
8. Asking closed questions
Closed questions are questions that can only be answered in a “yes” or “no”.
Closed question: “Do you like your job?”
Open question: “What do you like about your job?”
Open questions engage the interviewer to speak and allows for conversational flow.
9. Having your phone out
Even having your phone visible or on vibrate is a big N-O. Turn it off or leave it in your car.
Having your phone out tells the interviewer that they are unimportant and you are distractible.
It’s best to avoid your phone while you’re waiting too. Have their first look at you be a smile and an arm out for a handshake.
10. Talking badly about your last job
The only thing this does is put the interviewer in an uncomfortable position.
Discussing how disgruntled you are makes you look bad. (Even if your boss is the worst.)
The message you send when you do this is that you’re easily frustrated and have difficulty resolving conflict.
When they ask why you’re leaving your last job, name the reasons why it wasn’t a good fit without disparaging the company’s character.
Now you’re officially a communication champion. Good luck!