Key communication skills
An interview is a bit like a game of basketball. In basketball, the players pass the ball from person to person, so that it reaches the goal. Sometimes a player doesn't pass the ball, but takes control of it and moves it forward by bouncing it. In an interview, the conversation (the 'ball') moves between the interviewer(s) and the interviewee. Sometimes one 'side' will spend some time 'moving the ball forward' (speaking for a while). If one side doesn't pass the ball or move it forward, the discussion will stop. (Ellis & Thoreau, p.416)
Verbal communication skills include:
• Listen carefully to the questions asked – listen for the point of the question and give full but concise answers
• Avoid chattering and talking about irrelevant experiences and/or information
• Keep to the questions asked
• If you have not heard a question, ask for it to be repeated – if you do not understand a question, ask for an explanation
• If it is a two-part question, answer the first part and then ask for the second part to be repeated
• Check that you have understood if you have any doubts
• Be aware of body language throughout the interview. Here are some hints:
|Posture should be open and confident|
|On arrival, stand up straight with your arms at your side – folded arms are a barrier to communication|
|If you have a folder hold it in your left hand, so you are free to shake hands|
|Shake hands firmly – a limp handshake can be seen as a sign of weakness, while too firm a handshake can be seen as a sign of aggressiveness|
|Sit up straight with feet side-by-side on the floor|
|Avoid folding arms or holding tight to the arms of chairs when sitting|
|Use active listening body signals: look interested, maintain eye contact, sit slightly forward, nod and smile as appropriate|
Questions can be either:
General - What are your hobbies? What skills do you have to offer?
• Evidence based – Can you give me an example of when you had to handle a difficult customer? In the past how have you organised a group or team?
• Hypothetical - What would you do if you were faced with this situation? If you were given this project to complete, how would you go about it?
It is far easier to answer these questions if you are prepared, if you have written down positive experiences in your past and thought about how to use these experiences in your answers
o Hypothetical questions are the hardest to answer, so use real experience as a basis for your answer
Interviewer: If you were asked to organise a major event for the staff, how would you go about doing it?
Interviewee: Last year I was in a touch rugby team and I was asked to help organise a Christmas social. This is how I organised my time and resources to get the job done...