In an interview setting, communication skills can make all the difference in determining which of two equally skilled candidates will get the job.
Some people are naturally good communicators, giving them the advantage. If you don’t consider yourself a natural, that doesn’t mean you’re incapable of improvement, nor does it mean you need to act like someone you aren’t. The value of authenticity in communication is undeniable.
However, if you keep getting interviews but aren’t landing the job, it might be time to reevaluate the message you’re sending.
Consider these four communication touchpoints as you analyze the effectiveness of your communication skills:
1. Phone Manner
The first interview for any role is usually a phone interview. The conversation may not take more than 10 minutes, but length and depth are not really the point. The recruiter has already seen your resume and has a good idea of your hard skills.
As you answer questions and discuss your background, the recruiter will be trying to get a sense of your communication style and personality. Unfortunately, giving the wrong impression here could cost you. Take the call in a quiet place, and keep your notes in front of you to stay on track.
2. Written Communication
Anything you write to anyone at the company with which you’re interviewing will be scrutinized. Of course, you want to avoid spelling mistakes and typos. You also want to remember that no matter how short your note may be, it is still an opportunity to leave an impression.
For example, say you need to reschedule your interview. Your email could be to the point: “I’m sorry, but I’m no longer available to interview on Wednesday. Do you have time on Friday?”
Or you could make more of a connection: “Hope you’re doing well. I just learned of an important meeting at work this Wednesday that I can’t miss. Would it be possible to move the interview to Friday? I’m so disappointed to have to delay our meeting. I have been looking forward to it since our last conversation. Thanks in advance, and my apologies for any inconvenience.”
Which email do you think would leave a better impression with a hiring manager?
All types of communication offer an opportunity to create some sort of bond with another person. Why should communication in an interview setting be any different? Use each opportunity you have to make a deeper connection or leave a better impression.
3. Body Language
Hunching your shoulders or making yourself appear smaller when interviewing will suggest a lack of confidence, while folding your arms across your chest will create communicative distance between yourself and the interviewer. Eye contact or the lack thereof is also something interviewers notice. Remember, it’s critical to communicate your enthusiasm for the role and the company, and your body language will play a key part in expressing that enthusiasm.
4. Verbal Communication
This covers everything from your tone and articulation to the content of your speech. There is great power in being well spoken and able to project confidence — but confidence doesn’t mean that you always have all the answers.
Don’t get frazzled if you don’t know how to answer a question. Instead of becoming visibly uneasy or rushing to blurt out an answer, consider saying something like this: “That’s not a situation I’ve had to deal with, at least not exactly in the way you’re asking. But what I do think those situations call for is someone who can really think on their feet, and I’ve had to do that in many other ways.”
Whether you’re on the phone, sending an email, or at an in-person interview, communication is key. When competing against other qualified candidates, your message and brand need to come off clearly and confidently. Take each communication touchpoint seriously, and always consider the impression you’re making.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.
Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing‘s resident career expert.