Becoming a Better Job Candidate, Part 1 of 12: Improving Your Communication

Communication is one of the most important soft skills that employers and hiring managers look for when they’re vetting candidates. Almost every single job requires some form of communication, whether it’s in email form, face to face interactions, or crafting publications to be dispersed to the public. So it’s important to show off your communication skills during the entire hiring process. Here’s how you can become a better job candidate by improving your communication.


Compose professional emails


First, make sure you return all phone calls and correspondence within 24 hours. Check and double-check spelling, grammar, and formatting. If you’re not totally sure on a word’s definition, look it up. Don’t risk sounding uneducated by using a word incorrectly. The more you read, the stronger your vocabulary will become.


Practice good nonverbal communication


Demonstrate confidence by standing up straight, making eye contact, and connecting with a firm handshake. Your first impression is an important one—your interviewer will make a snap decision about you based on your presentation and body language. Dress appropriately. Even though many companies are resorting to more casual dress codes, you should investigate each company’s culture and try to match it. If in doubt, dress a little nicer than you think they’re expecting.


Let them know you’re listening


There are two sides to effective communication, and the second might be more important than the first: you have to listen! Your interviewer is giving your information and cues, so make sure you’re paying attention and responding accordingly. Though you should have rehearsed what you want to say, you still need to answer the questions they shoot at you. Show that you’re hearing what’s being said and match the interviewer’s tone, mood, and pace of speaking.


Don’t talk too much


Though you want to make sure you’re providing thoughtful, complete responses during job interviews, there is such thing as talking too much. You don’t want to risk over-sharing, especially details that might come back to bite you. Practice speaking clearly ahead of time so you offer concise, focused answers to their questions and don’t ramble. Re-read the original job posting and make sure you can elaborate on how your skills match the position’s requirements.


Stay professional


Don’t be too familiar with your interviewer. Match the level of familiarity and friendliness of the person who meets with you. Bring energy and enthusiasm so you can show off your passion and interest in the job, but use appropriate language. You don’t want to offend anyone by using slang or you’ll be shown the door! Don’t appear too desperate, or they might wonder whether there’s something questionable about you. You still want to seem calm, cool, and confident!

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