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Companies use resumes, interviews and recommendations to assess a job candidate’s intellectual ability and professional potential as well as his values and personal goals. Hiring managers rely on interviews to assess a candidate’s thought processes and his likely contributions to the organization. But it’s the candidate’s communication skills, including his ability to hear a question, correctly interpret what’s said and form an appropriate response, that may tip the hiring scales in his favor.
Importance of Communication Skills
Companies hire employees who are good fits for current positions but who also have the traits needed to move up in the organization. Mike Myatt writes in the “Forbes” article, “10 Communication Secrets of Great Leaders,” that one such essential leadership trait is effective communication at the interpersonal, group and organizational levels. Individuals with this leadership trait draw on particular communication skills that benefit them in their interaction with a hiring manager and all other inter- and intracompany interactions that follow. Such skills include demonstrating the appropriate body language, listening attentively while others speak and using verbal and nonverbal communication to persuade and negotiate.
Send a Message with Body Language
During an interview, sending the right message with your body language is as important as the words you speak. A firm handshake, a warm smile and steady eye contact to show your interest are interview tips that Carol Goman, author of “The Nonverbal Advantage: Body Language at Work,” suggests will increase your odds of receiving a job offer. Goman also suggests maintaining an open posture when interviewing, which indicates you have nothing to hide. To make a positive first impression as you meet company representatives, the leadership expert encourages you to strike a pose that conveys a sense of confidence and competence. Matt Eventoff, a communication strategist, states that making a positive impression also requires that you avoid certain behaviors, such as fidgeting, grooming yourself and maintaining poor posture, because these acts distract the hiring manager from your skills and experience.
Listening is as Important as Speaking
Companies hire employees to solve particular problems. Consequently, it’s important to communicate your interest in the job by listening as the hiring manager describes his company’s issues and the challenges a new hire will address. If you listen carefully, it’s more likely you’ll avoid a knee-jerk response to what might be said and asked in the interview setting. In addition, listening carefully will help you find proper places in the conversation to interject comments regarding two to three of your favorable characteristics that will be a benefit on the job. Listening also will ensure that you ask the right questions, such as “What is the greatest challenge that your department is dealing with?”
Persuade and Negotiate for a Job Offer
Before you can plan your first day at the office, you must communicate your skills to the hiring manager, persuade him of your value to the company and negotiate the terms of your employment. The interview is the main opportunity you’ll have to accomplish these goals. To do so, you’ll need to brush up on the job requisition, the company and its operating environment by reviewing the company’s website, the documentation you’ve gathered and talking to current employees, if possible. By relating the information you collect with your background and skills, you can persuade the company of your value.
Billie Nordmeyer works as a consultant advising small businesses and Fortune 500 companies on performance improvement initiatives, as well as SAP software selection and implementation. During her career, she has published business and technology-based articles and texts. Nordmeyer holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting, a Master of Arts in international management and a Master of Business Administration in finance.
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