How to improve communication skills in time for an interview

How to improve communication skills in time for an interview

As the number of college graduate jobs begins to grow, so too does the quality of potential applicants. With competition heating up, it’s worth your time to work on a highly overlooked skill: communication. Practice these tips to improve your abilities in the interviewing environment and land your first job.

Don’t talk over people
It’s hard sometimes when you’re in a conversation to not talk over the other person. What’s being discussed could be very exciting or thought provoking, and you just want an opportunity to contribute. Before you know it, you start blurting out your thoughts before your partner is done speaking. Now imagine you did that in an interview with a recruiter. Unfortunately, it’s a real problem that people have on a daily basis. It may be unintentional, but it’s still very to interrupt someone when they’re talking, even if they’re asking you a question. By talking over them you’re conveying a sense of apathy for what they’re telling or asking you. You make it seem like what you have to say is far more significant. Next time you’re in a conversation with someone, make a conscious effort to pause and let them finish their thought before contributing. By the time your first interviews come around, you’ll be a well-oiled polite machine.

Ask more questions
At its core, a significant conversation is for clarity and transferring information. Regardless of if you’re talking about movie casting news with friends or working on a group project with classmates, every conversation is about sharing important insight or knowledge. Typically, the surface of the topic at hand isn’t enough to adequately explain the true purpose of the conversation. Rather than move on, start asking relevant follow up questions to make you think harder and more efficiently. You want to engage and respond to the other person by participating in active listening. Asking multiple questions tells them you are invested in what they’re saying and making an effort to clarify what’s being discussed. When you’re in an interview and the manager is explaining the company’s goals or the position’s role within the business, you want him or her to know you’re paying acute attention to every word.

Write things down
Our brains can only hold so much information for recall. While facts and numbers can stick in there pretty well, comments and notes can get lost throughout the day. Thinking creatively doesn’t leave room for much else either. While job hunting, start to make a habit of writing things down to stay on top of to-do lists and tasks. You can do it however you please – pen and paper or emails and texts to yourself are great options. It will help you revisit old thoughts to bring up in conversations later. Handwriting notes also can help you remember things better. While you may think writing notes during an interview makes it seem like you aren’t listening to the recruiter, it’s not much different from taking notes in a college classroom. You’re jotting down the important stuff to revisit afterwards and it shows managers that you’re doing everything you can to be prepared for the job in case you get hired.

Make a response schedule
At some point, everybody falls into the trap of delayed replies. You may get a text or call at an inconvenient time and set it aside to reply later in the day. The next thing you know, it’s been four days and your professor is wondering why you missed the scheduled office hours. It’s important to set a routine of communication because it boosts your productivity and makes you more reliable. Imagine if you received a phone call or email from a recruiter about scheduling an interview and you forgot to reply. Without the discipline of a response schedule, you could lose that job opportunity in a snap. Make it a habit to be more responsive to friends and you will maintain those standards in the professional world.

Keep eye contact
It can feel bizarre staring into someone’s eyes throughout a conversation. It can be helpful in loud environments to focus on a person’s mouth, as it can help you better understand what they’re saying. But maintaining eye contact conveys interest in what someone is saying. You’re not letting anything else distract you and you’re attention is solely on them. Work on consistent eye contact in conversations with your friends so much that it becomes second nature. That way, when you land an interview for your dream job, you never take your eye off the prize!

Communication is an incredibly valuable ability to have coming out of college. Companies want to hire graduates that are able to effectively and fluidly communicate with coworkers and clients alike. Working with these tips, you should be appropriately prepared for any and all upcoming interviews.

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