Confident communication skills help us to make and maintain good connections. They are essential for securing a job and vital traits once you are employed. Each year the gradireland Graduate Salary & Recruitment Trends Survey reveals communication to be one of the core areas of concern for employers when it comes to graduate recruits. In an interview situation, nerves and stress can be a factor, no matter whether it is your first interview or your fifth. But you have the capability to communicate confidently, you just need to know how to and when. To enhance your communication skills during an interview, EMPLOY the following tips;
- Eye contact. It is important to smile and to make eye contact with your interviewer/interviewers as you meet them and throughout the interview process. This creates a non-verbal connection between you and them, it inspires their trust in you and conveys your confidence and people skills.
- Modulate your voice. We can all develop the habit of speaking in the same tone. By modulating or changing our voice we keep people’s interest. It gives the impression that we are interested in and enthusiastic about what we have to say. People want to work with interested and interesting people. There are a number of skills you can use to achieve this variety. The first way is to raise the pitch (height and depth) of your voice when making a new point. Think of it like telling a story, some parts require more emphasis, and a different pitch, than others.
- P Don’t be afraid to pause before answering a question, or during an answer. It will give you a chance to gather your thoughts, take a breath if needed, stay or regain calm and allow your interviewer to absorb what you have said. By practising pause, pre-interview, it can help you to identify filler words to avoid, such as “Eh…. Um…. Like”, and filter them out of your vocabulary! Don’t worry about creating tumbleweed moments; a pause will feel much longer to you than to your listener. Pausing can stop panic in its tracks and communicates confidence and that you are comfortable with taking the time to think before responding.
- L Being an engaged listener is an essential communication skill. Taking the time to comprehend and be interested in what is being said ensures that you can take in what is being asked. Listening intently keeps you focused, calm and in the present, enabling you to think more clearly and to express yourself more effectively.
- Open Your Mouth. When you get nervous, your jaw becomes susceptible to tension, which means we may not open our mouth freely, resulting in our words sounding mumbled. Alleviate this tension by yawning, massaging the hinges of your jaw and stretching your face. Just make sure you do it pre-interview! Sometimes it’s just a matter of focus; remembering to loosen up and articulate yourself properly. As you practise for interviews, exaggerate your articulation by “over” opening your mouth. It may feel over the top, but this is just to get your speech moving and out of your mouth and it won’t sound or look nearly as strange as it might feel! An Open Posture is a confident posture. It features chin parallel with the floor, shoulders unraised and back, arms and legs uncrossed and top it off with a firm handshake. Before your interview, find a private space to practise a power posture by standing with your feet more than hip width apart and your hands on your hips, or raised in the air, creating a V shape.
- Your attire. Bare in mind, as you dress to impress, that you will express yourself best when you are comfortable. Have a dress rehearsal as you practise your interview to ensure that you can move, sit, breathe and speak easily. Every little helps in interview situations so give yourself the best possible chance.
Emma Coogan helps people to express themselves clearly, with confidence and charisma. She runs the Emma Coogan School of Speech and Drama. Visit her on Facebook or keep up to date with Emma on Twitter. For some videos on confidence techniques that work, have a look here .
Maybe you’re just starting out in your career, maybe you have just changed job or maybe you have just returned to the workplace; whichever it is, remaining focused, motivated and effective is of course central to obtaining your career ambitions. But it’s a reality that it is also very easy to lose focus, and become easily distracted and less productive, so here’s some helpful tips to keeping your workplace edge sharp this summer.
Remember the good stuff
Like the fact that you have a job. Remember the many applications, the increasing pressure and the lack of money that accompanied college life or spending time unemployed. If you’re not walking into your workplace with the same spring in your step, try to remember what made you want to apply for the job in the first place, remember the sense of achievement when you got it and the accomplishments you have made in the work you do. Your work is important, you need to remember that and use it to keep motivated.
Take care of yourself
Work is important, sure, but not as important as you. Spending hours hunched like a contortionist over a keyboard is not going to do anyone any favours, least of all yourself. Spend some time away from the desk, it helps clear the mind, problem solve and reminds you of the wider world. Get some exercise too, whether it’s during your commute to work or something you do after work. And remember to eat well, not just whatever is most convenient. Bringing your own lunch to the office saves a fortune and you’re probably going to be eating healthier too. Also, remember to talk to your colleagues. We are all busy but it’s far more rewarding to share your workplace life with others, where possible and reasonable of course, and it can also remind you that there are people around you who should be willing to help if you’re feeling snowed under. Of course, it helps with your motivation if the people around you are motivated and enthusiastic too. Also, if you have a problem at work, and if you thiink you’re dealing with something, or somebody, that you shouldn’t have to then it’s important you address it right away with your manager or colleagues. Nobody should dread going to work.
Maybe you’re stuck in a rut and your job has just become ‘easy’. It’s important that you challenge yourself. That could be as simple as writing a list of tasks every day and trying to get through them, or else it could mean a chat with your manager and you seeking more responsibilities within the company. Whatever it is, it’s important to seek new challenges. Neither you, or the company, will gain anything long term by you standing still. Another way to motivate yourself in your career is by setting some goals which are linked to personal ambitions, such as travel. Always keep your goals realistic and ultimately attainable, even if it’s going to take months or even years. Focus on small changes which you can make to your lifestyle which can put you closer to what you want to achieve. If you can transfer this to your work then you’re going be far more rewarded and productive in what you do.
Visit here for information from gradireland on what you can do to make a winning start to to your career.
In her second article, Laura Jordan of Stylesavvy.ie advises male graduates on the best interview and workplace dress tips.
Guys have a far more rigid rulebook when it comes to interview wear, particularly in the corporate world, as dress code almost always dictates a suit and tie.
But which suit you may ask? Navy is my top tip. Statistically this colour sells out first during sales, as it matches the greatest variety of complexions and is one of the most flattering colours to wear at any time of the day. A navy suit requires tan or brown shoes; feel free to show some personality with the socks, I suppose this is the male equivalent of accessorising! For other suit colours, (brown, taupe, biscuit, beige) and fabrics (wool, tweed etc) co-ordinate with tan or brown. Charcoal or variations of grey can be worn with black shoes.
When choosing a shirt avoid white, unless you have a suntan or a naturally sallow complexion. Pale blue or pale pink are the most flattering, with a contrasting tie. The ultimate ‘power combination’ is a pale blue shirt (indicating calm) paired with a red or coral tie (showing confidence and competency).
Men’s workwear hits a higher price point than female, simply because the cost per wear is more efficient and less variety is required. However, the initial outlay is considerably more. The images and advice here are just suggested purchases, perhaps copy these looks in Dunnes Stores or Penneys until you have the disposable income required for more expensive purchases. Cedarwood State is a super workwear range available at Penneys and Primark UK.
Shopping online often offers more variety of size and style. With most retailers offering free returns, it’s a hassle free way to shop, check out stores like www.asos.com.
When you have your wardrobe sorted, visit gradireland for practical interview tips and advice.
Laura Jordan is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and Dublin Institute of Design. She works as a fashion stylist and image consultant, specialising in corporate style and workwear wardrobes through her popular ‘StyleWorks’ seminars.