Are you one of those people who talk when they are nervous? It’s pretty easy to do — and very damaging to your career if you don’t learn how to control it. That old adage about having two ears and one mouth so you can listen twice as much as you talk is actually good advice for every part of your working world, from the interview to get the job to the moves into management and executive leadership.
The Big Mistake You Can Make
When you sit down for an interview, one of the big questions in the interviewer’s mind is what you will be like to work with. It’s a valid question because most jobs do involve some level of teamwork. So in order to answer the big questions, the way you answer smaller questions is observed. Speaking without listening is a red flag because it indicates that since you don’t listen here, in the job interview, you won’t listen later, on the job.
If you are rehearsing your “hire me” job spiel in your head, waiting for the chance to present it, then you aren’t going to be hearing the questions they ask. You’ll be answering the questions you think they will ask — and that is not the same thing at all.
It is a good preparation tactic to think through questions that may be asked in an interview. But that’s not a script you are rehearsing, and the interview may not involve those questions at all. It’s better to make sure you actually hear what is being asked so you can answer the question.
The Leadership Skill of Listening
One of the reasons that the skill of listening is a mark of leadership is because truly hearing what people are saying gives added perspective to a problem so it can be solved. Listening is a mark of respect for the speaker, and true leaders value those on their team as important contributors. Learning how to listen is part of honing your interview skills, but being able to listen and contribute value to the conversation by being on the same page is a skill you will need all your life.
In an interview, it’s all about the questions.The conversation is pretty much a standard question-and-answer format for the most part. But there are some questions that should not be asked because it is illegal to do so. Federal and state anti-discrimination laws are designed to get you hired based on your skills, not a stereotype.
Doostang recently posted a list of Ten Questions You Should Never Be Asked In An Interview. It’s a clear list of questions that could be discriminatory and the possible “fair” questions that would be similar. The basic categories are simple:
Who you are — your race, national origin, disabilities, age, gender, marital/parental status. These things should not affect your job in themselves, although being eligible to work in this country (national origin) or capable of doing the job with/without accommodation (disability, age) can be fair questions.
What background you have — bankruptcy, arrest records, type of military discharges might come up in a security check, but they should have disclaimers or be part of a credit check you approve. They shouldn’t be reasons not to hire you.
Which groups you belong to — political, social, religious groups or unions; if the employer is a religious association, they can give preference to those belonging to their religion, but for the most part, it shouldn’t be asked. Job-related groups like professional associations are different.
There are many reasons an inappropriate question comes up during an interview. Often, it has nothing to do with wrong motives. The interviewer is just unaware they crossed a line. Your response can be professional, tactful, and firm without creating more problems. Try answering in the form of how it affects your job. “I am able to fill all the requirements of this position” sounds a lot better than “That is a discriminatory question! You have no right to ask me that!” Of course, if they push it, you could go there if it’s clear you are dealing with discrimination. But be professional, tactful, and firm about it and you’ll have a better response. It is important to be prepared for potentially discriminatory questions, and that is part of your interviewing skills. There are a number of helpful posts when you follow the link, and each one will give you good advice. Professional Resume Services has a goal: we want to see you go through the interview successfully and get the job you want!
There are an increasing number of interviews conducted over the phone, and it is important to pay attention to your phone skills. When you think about it, your interview will probably be set up with a phone call and that call will influence the impression you make. You can’t control where you will be when the call comes in to schedule an interview, but if you know what will sabotage your chances of a job, then you can control as much as possible.
Background noise is distracting. If you are called in a noisy environment, apologize and get to a quiet spot immediately. But don’t make the mistake of going into the bathroom to be alone because the hard surfaces cause an echo that is unmistakable and the potential for another customer to make noise you don’t want is always there. Arrange to talk further in another place.
If you are actually doing a phone interview, treat it like you would any other meeting. Be prepared with all documents (resume, etc.) and be alone in the room. Don’t have the tv on or background music.
No gum, food, or drink. Talking with something in your mouth will change the way you sound, even if they can’t see you.
Smile and sit up straight. People can tell by the sound of your voice when your smiling. Smiling while you are talking exudes confidence and ease. Practice to a friend if you need to. Sitting up in a straight-backed chair will make you feel slightly less relaxed and more professional, and remind you that even if you and the other person are hitting it off, you are still on an interview.
During a phone call the only information that is transmitted is by sound. Anything that will adversely affect that sound will cause problems so take care to remove yourself from any interruptions..
A recent survey of 1,205 business decision makers in four regions and twelve countries has confirmed what many would say is obvious: video conferencing is here to stay and going to increase in the future. The survey, “Global View: Business Video Conferencing Usage and Trends,” was done by Redshift Research for Polycom, Inc. and is a fascinating look at how technology changes the way we do business. It’s also a reminder that your job will be affected by it in the future.
One finding was that 32% of the U.S. respondents were likely to use video technology for interviewing potential employees. That’s the highest percentage of all the countries represented, with the next largest group being 28% of the Asia-Pacific region. So I’d say that knowing how to get ready for an online interview is a very good idea.
Another factor that may come up in your interview is your view of working with colleagues from other countries and cultures. Quite often, this doesn’t mean globe-trotting; it means video conferencing.
The more familiar you are with the idea, the better a candidate you will be for that position. So Polycom came up with a Guide To Collaborating Across Borders as a result of their survey, and I’m letting you in on the free tool because I want you to be that savvy candidate who knows about the trends where business is heading.
The interesting thing about all this is that no matter what your background or career track is, your job will probably include technology and multicultural experiences in the future. Being ready for it at the interview gives you an advantage.