Did you know that the majority of interview processes begin with a phone interview? When these phone interviews first started many people didn’t take them seriously. It seemed like a preliminary process that didn’t need as much preparation or planning as the follow up interviews. Today, if you don’t pay attention to phone interviews, you are not likely to win interviews.
The preliminary screening is often done long before the first interview happens. The screening happens when you first apply online for many people. Often if your resume hasn’t been well prepared with keywords and accomplishments that fit the particular opening, you will be screened out with the online application. Savvy job seekers use networking strategies to get beyond the online application and gain the attention of hiring managers but they still need to pay attention during the phone interviews.
While speaking skills are critical in phone interviews, the same tips will help you during in-person interviews. The difference is that when you have in-person interviews, you have more visual effects working for you. You can make eye contact (and should make eye contact), you can use visual aids, and you can build more acceptance in an in-person interview.
5 Tips to improve your speaking skills to help you win interviews (and job offers)
- Slow down! Don’t talk too fast. Speeding up often happens when you are nervous and it makes you more difficult to understand. Periodically, I meet someone who speaks so quickly that I get a headache listening. The message I get is that I am not as important to him as whatever else he has to do that day. It is hard to process information from someone who is speaking too fast. It sounds rude.
- Speak in sound bites. Do you ever have to remind yourself to stop speaking? Do you sometimes forget to stop talking? When you stop, ask if they have any questions, rather than trying to give every potential piece of relevant information to the question. Pause occasionally. Pauses are powerful. Listeners are able to interpret meaning when you pause.
- Speak with inflection. People who speak in a monotone put their audience to sleep. Try recording your own voice. Today you can do that with your phone or with Skype or a variety of other apps. Listen carefully to how you sound and note aspects of the way you speak that reduce the effectiveness of your message. By raising and lowering your volume, you create emphasis.
- Observe how you are using language. If you tend to use slang or worse, curse words, clean up your language and practice answers to common interview questions.
- Smile when you are speaking. Your tone changes when you smile. You don’t have to do that throughout the entire interview but if you remind yourself to smile periodically, you will seem friendlier.
All of these speaking tips will also help you in company meetings, when you are asked to speak at a conference, present at a company meeting, or teach a class.