Too often job seekers will enter an interview and quickly lose their confidence, which undermines their performance. If you suffer from this affliction, you could benefit greatly by learning the skills and mindset of a master presenter who can successfully perform in front of large audiences. That skill can be transferred to interviews, and if you learn it, interviewing anxiety should no longer be a worry.
Top presenters share the following five key skills that will benefit you in the next interview:
Confidence is a key attribute in being able to present to other people. It's not just about having the confidence that you can perform well within the job role either. You must have confidence in yourself. Some hiring managers may feel that if you cannot talk to them professionally, you won’t be able to manage a discussion with an irritated consumer or put forward your own thoughts effectively to a colleague.
Belief in yourself can be projected in many ways. A person with confidence stands and sits tall in their seat and projects their voice (see below). A person who lacks confidence does the opposite, displaying poor posture, slumping in chairs and talking in a low whisper. Eye contact is also an important aspect. Maintaining eye contact with the hiring manager, as a presenter does with their audience, will demonstrate that you believe in what you are saying and that you are trustworthy.
Another thing to watch out for is body language. A presenter is always signaling with their hands that they are open, friendly and confident by having their hands at their side. A person who has their arms crossed is signaling that they are being defensive, which the hiring manager will pick up on. Keeping your hands on the arms of a chair is a really good option, or alternatively try holding a pen and notepad to take notes.
"Interviewees under pressure often forget to share their eye contact when being questioned. It's human nature to give the most attention to whoever is speaking. At Edison Red we would recommend spreading your eye contact around the entire panel. It's all too easy to switch off when it's lost". – David, Edison Red
A confident person projects their voice with authority. However, it is also important that the presenter is heard clearly. I once interviewed for a position and there were three candidates. On paper there was a really good candidate who had all the skills and experience necessary for the role. However, in the interview they were so quiet, I could barely hear them over the noise of the office outside. In the end, the best qualified candidate didn't get the job due to their presentation skills and voice.
Communication difficulties may also arise if the tone or the dialect is too dissimilar to that of the interviewer. Speech that can be clearly understood by anyone is essential. At the very least, the interviewee needs to speak at a volume which can be heard in a clear tone and not mumble.
To do this, it's best if the interviewee sits up straight in the chair with shoulders pushed back. If you watch many presenters, they are always standing or sitting in a chair with their back straight and their head up. This is to clear the airway and maximize the air that can enter and exit the lungs, creating the clear tone.
Use Examples and Statistics
It's clear that when you are speak to someone, your message will be better received if you use real examples. Many presenters will include case studies and research in their presentations. In the interview, candidates should assume a similar approach. Which one of the following do you think the hiring manager would prefer to hear?
- “I can design business websites.”
- “There was a 33% rise in lead generation from a website that I designed and created for my last company.”
By providing actual statistics to the hiring manager, you can establish tangible benefits for the organization.
Knowledgeable and Current
Presenters often take questions at the end of their speeches. This is a time in which the audience can really grill them for further details, or clarify details that have been mentioned but not understood. For this to work well, presenters have to be knowledgeable about their topic and current with all the latest news. Therefore, if anyone asks them a question about something from the latest release or research paper, they can respond clearly and concisely without looking like they haven’t researched their own topic or are making it up on the spot.
The same should be said of interviewees. They should be fully up to date and able to answer questions on any aspect that could be related to their role, including latest practices. An example of this was when I was recruiting for an Online Marketing Executive. On paper, the application looked great, but in the interview, it soon became obvious that the candidate hadn’t done any research. They hadn’t been in a similar job for two years and they didn’t know the latest technology, which doomed their performance.
Another example of how this could work in your favor is researching all that you can about the company. Early on in my career I the first question I was asked in an interview was what I knew about the company. In about five minutes, I detailed the origins of the business and discussed the company's latest acquisition. I was offered the job the next day. It's also important to be able to demonstrate your knowledge in a concise way. Taking too long can bore your audience, leaving you at a disadvantage. In the case I mentioned, I took five minutes to inform the hiring manager of the history of the organization that spanned over 100 years.
If you ever watch top presenters, they are always passionate about their topic. Often they will walk around the stage and their body language will demonstrate high energy. Top candidates make it clear they're enthusiastic about the job. However, there is a thin line between passion and being conceived as arrogant or over-enthusiastic, so caution should be applied here.
When tackling your next interview, think about the five points above. Consider how you could be viewed with your body language, voice, passion, knowledge and confidence. And remember that if you want to succeed, strive to emulate those that present themselves daily to more people than will ever be interviewing you.