Interview Questions and Answers: Speaking to interviewers

Interview questions aren't 'just' interview questions. They're part of a communication process between people, different individuals. That means there's room for mistakes, misinterpretations, and problems for interviewees.

Basic verbal communication is a learned skill. Because everyone speaks a bit differently, we learn how to listen to people when we meet them. It's a largely subconscious process. In interviews, however, this learning situation can become a problem. Both interviewers and interviewees have to learn how to listen to each other. That's done during the intro phase, to a point, but when the interview questions start, both sides are learning as they go. Each interview question and interview answer has to try to successfully communicate as both sides learn.

Communications issues at interviews

As an interviewee, you do yourself a favor by making sure you're communicating clearly. Your interview answers have to get through effectively.

Good communicators are always good interviewees. They give much clearer interview answers, not necessarily better, interview answers. Importantly, they also respond better, visibly, to the interview questions. Their presentation is better than other applicants, and their information quality is better, mainly because they deliver their information very well.

These are the interviewees the interviewers recognize and remember, and you need to understand how and why this is the case.

Speaking and communicating

Speaking isn't 'communicating' by definition. Speaking is part of communication. We touched on this situation briefly in 'The art of answering interview questions.' Speech, like interview answers, needs to be effectively phrased, and well delivered. Interview answers must be understood.

Elocution, the way in which you pronounce words, sometimes needs training. Some people mumble, some have thick accents, others slur their words, and many people just speak too quickly. Most people, in fact, don't speak their languages 'correctly', but a sort of local dialect.

Interview answers can be incomprehensible, through no fault of anyone's. The interviewers have to try to make sense out of it.

Speaking tips:

  • Speak as clearly as you can, from the start.
  • If necessary, take speaking lessons, so you can project your voice more effectively.
  • Practice your interview answers with someone, or a class, and get some feedback on your clarity of speech.
  • Make a conscious effort not to speak quickly. It does affect clarity.
  • Pause and think for a second before giving your interview answer. It helps control your breathing.

Communication tips:

  • Do not take it for granted that you're getting your message across. Check, if you're not sure.
  • Remember to explain all the examples and situations in your interview answers.
  • Express yourself accurately, and say what you mean. Don't use a thousand words where three would do.
  • Address the interviewer directly, looking at that person. Some employment experts suggest addressing the interviewer by name.

Remember- You're in direct contact with the interviewers. Your speech, posture, presence, are all part of your interview answers.

Now is the time to really try to look good.