The importance of preparing for your interview cannot be overemphasized because as the saying goes, the one who fails to plan has already planned to fail. Today our focus would be to discuss some practical tips that can help you communicate better during your interview. The truth of the matter is that passing an interview particularly in a well-structured company does not happen by chance. A certain level of intentionality is required from your end.
Now someone might ask, what if I prepare as hard as I can and the company still doesn’t hire me, would it not have been a waste of time? Well, my answer to this is ‘absolutely not’, whatever you learn would more often than not find some relevance at some point in your future.
Please stay tuned as we unpack this further.
Welcome to episode 2 of the Dear Candidate podcast. This podcast seeks to educate and demystify your search experience.
Please check out episode 1 if you haven’t done that already and you can of course share the link with someone who has an interview in the coming days to help them avoid the pitfalls discussed. You can thank me later (Laughs).
Right, so I am Tosin Anifowose and I am your host. I am a senior tech recruiter and my experience cuts across interviewing candidates + coaching job seekers in my spare time and really helping people find the jobs they want is something I am very passionate about.
The internet is filled with strategies and tips on how to pass interviews, what to say and what you shouldn’t say, and sometimes you even find specific interview templates that are relevant to certain companies. All of that has its place but at the end of the day, your ability or inability to communicate your thoughts and ideas is really what matters.
In today’s podcast, I would like to share 3 practical tips that would help you communicate better during your next interview. However before we go into that, let’s ask ourselves a question. What is the fundamental purpose of an interview? (Pause). Think about that for a second.
Hopefully, you came up with one or 2 reasons. Now hold that thought for a while and listen to this.
I recently came across a post on social media and the author alluded to the fact that people who pass interviews are great actors. I found that to be funny however there is some element of truth in that, which is why most of the time, interview processes or questions are designed to reveal how authentic a candidate is. So basically acting might only take you up to a point and to be honest, it’s really not in your interest to get a job through false pretense. In the long run, the quality of your performance would reveal if the company hired an actor or the real deal. (laughs).
Remember the question I asked about the fundamental purpose of an interview? Good, irrespective of the reasons you came up with, I believe there would be some correlation with the reason I came up with.
So I believe that every interview is like a fact-finding mission to determine if you are the ideal fit for the role by identifying what makes you stand out relative to the other candidates and or the bar that has been set for the position.
It is therefore important that you bring your authentic self to the interviewing room
Bringing your authentic self is your ability to articulate clearly what makes you stand out.
In other words, you are trying to tell your interviewer why your experience and your skillset is the best fit for the role you are applying to. It’s like saying to them, you had me in mind when you created this Job because I have what it takes to deliver on it.
Alright, so let’s dive into the practical tips.
Number 1 – Interview yourself
That’s right! Be your first interviewer.
Ask yourself questions and if possible write down your answers. If writing or typing them out is too stressful, then consider recording them on your smartphone (put that voice recorder to work). Read your answers or playback your voice notes to yourself and critique yourself. Were your answers clear enough? Did you actually answer the question? Did you go off-topic at any point? Were you stuck multiple times? If you were the interviewer, would you be convinced with your answers? And so on. Answering these questions would help you identify the potential areas for improvement.
Also, the job description for the role you are interviewing for might have subtle hints of what the interviewers may try to check. So try to go over it multiple times (if needed) and try to identify likely areas that your interviewers may want to focus on, based on the requirements and the expectations for the role.
It is also important that you try to prepare clear-cut examples from your experience or other non-work-related activities that can show why you are what they are looking for. The reason why you should do this beforehand is so that you won’t have to spend half of the interview time trying to dig for examples. That happened to me in the past and it’s certainly not the nicest thing.
Alright, So the point here is really to try to listen to yourself so you can make the necessary adjustments that are needed.
Number 2 – During the Interview be attentive to your interviewer
Try to read the verbal and nonverbal signs that your interviewer may be giving and make the appropriate adjustments.
Now I know everything to a large extent is happening remotely and sometimes your interview may be an audio conversation. However, you can still listen to and decode the subtle signals your interviewer gives.
For example, I’ve been in interview situations where I try to give subtle hints to guide the candidates to ensure that we effectively manage the time.
Practically speaking, what I would generally do would be to politely interject at certain points just to stir them in the right direction so that I can actually get them to answer the questions I am asking. However some candidates seem oblivious to this and I would literally have to in extreme cases tell them to please summarise (I mean, I won’t say it like that not to appear rude but you get the message)because of the time constraint.
So please be mindful of the signals coming from your interviewer so that the interviewer can fully cover what he or she has prepared, to help them come to the right decision. Covering half of the questions would be like making a decision based on half information and we don’t want that.
I must however give a caveat here, sometimes your interviewer may be sending signals that have absolutely nothing to do with you so don’t bother yourself too much if everything seems good from your end.
At the end of the day, the one conducting your interview is a human being and not a machine.
Number 3- Introduce breakpoints (if necessary)
Finally, try to introduce breakpoints when explaining or answering questions that require you to speak for a long time.
An example of a breakpoint would be: I hope that was clear? I hope this is in line with what you asked and so on.
The essence of this is to try to engage your interviewer and to periodically solicit responses from them. This is particularly relevant for interviewers that appear to be quiet. Now some interviewers are generally responsive, so as you explain you would for example hear them ‘hmm, and ‘haa’ or in the case of a video call, you will see them ‘nodd,’ smile, or even laugh (depending on what you are saying of course). So we are not referring to the naturally reactive ones. We are mostly speaking about the other category.
In general, your target should be to present your explanations or your answers in an engaging and interesting way.
Alright so to wrap everything up, remember to interview yourself before your interview, be attentive to your interviewer and introduce breakpoints in your explanations (if necessary).
I also want you to know that you are authentic but the Job of communicating how authentic you are lies solely with you because Nobody knows you like you.
In my next episode, I’ll look at the different stages of a typical application process and I will tell you the primary reason (based on my experience) why candidates are dropped at each stage. This would help you decode why you may not be getting any interviews or why you keep getting rejections after a particular stage in the process.. So please expect that.
Thanks so much for listening, hit that subscribe button if you haven’t done that yet.
Remember to follow dear candidate 01 on any social media handle of your choice or to make contact using the contact form on the website at www.dearcandidate.org.
Till next time, take care and keep being authentic.