When it comes to applying for jobs, your qualifications and technical skills alone are no longer enough. Employers want more.
The problem is, so much emphasis is placed on learning the technical skills required for a job. But while your technical skills might get you an interview, it’s your soft skills (your ‘people skills’) that you will need to impress an employer with in order to convert an interview into a job offer.
Without a doubt, the soft skills that are imperative for effective remote working are strong communication skills. Candidates with strong communication skills are in high demand by remote-friendly employers the world over. This is because remote work poses some unique challenges when it comes to communication. We all know face-to-face interactions are valuable, but they can be rare when you’re working remotely. So it’s critical to become an expert in communication so you can work effectively and productively as a remote team member.
Communication skills are transferable and a valuable asset to ANY organisation, in ANY industry. So if your communication skills are not your strong point, it’s worth your while spending time on developing these skills.
If you’re lucky enough to be called up for an interview, this is where you really need to shine! In this article we give you tips and advice on the different areas to focus on in order to improve your communication skills so that you stand out to potential employers and have a better chance of landing the remote job of your dreams.
Shhh – Listen!
Often we think of communication skills as mainly the written and spoken word, but listening is a valuable, active skill and it is far more than merely hearing. Listening can be hard work though, simply because it requires concentration and your focus on the other person, rather than yourself.
People with good listening skills don’t just ‘hear’ what is being said, they listen to the entire message. As a result, they can pick up information quickly, avoid misunderstandings, and generally find it easier to build relationships with people they work with.
Here are some tips to demonstrate strong listening skills during an interview:
- Don’t interrupt the interviewer while they’re speaking – this is often because you have formulated your response before they have finished speaking. Wait and listen.
- Be attentive and avoid getting easily distracted. (If you’re sitting in your home office, make sure you don’t have any distractions around you, and mute your phone!)
- Rephrase what the interviewer has said to confirm your listening and understanding.
- Try to decipher the main points of the conversation and, if possible, make some notes to help you remember key points.
- Don’t be afraid of silence during a conversation; it’s a time to digest and reflect on what was said.
Before heading into an interview test how good your listening skills are using this online quiz developed by MindTools. This will help you to determine where your weaknesses are and what you need to work on.
Brush Up on Your Body Language
Your body language refers to your unspoken communication that supplements your verbal communication. And when it comes to an interview, it’s the first thing an employer will notice in order to gauge your confidence and professionalism.
In her TED Talk, leading Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy explains how body language not only shapes who we are, but also how we can all make sweeping judgments and inferences from body language. So body language can play a huge part in the outcome of life-changing decisions, such as getting hired for a job. Watch the full talk below.
So here are some tips to improve your body language during an interview:
- Be aware of your posture; sit back in your chair, sit up straight and relax your shoulders so you don’t look tense.
- As with listening, maintain good eye contact to show genuine interest in what the interviewer has to say.
- Use hand gestures while speaking – but don’t overdo it.
- Remain positive, be genuinely enthusiastic, and smile occasionally.
- Take on a natural sitting position and have your shoulders facing the interviewer in order to suggest openness.
- And if the interview is conducted remotely, be sure your web cam puts you in good light in terms of the position. It should be front and centre and not too far away from you.
Improve Your Verbal Communication
Obviously your verbal communication skills play a large part in the interview process. Here are some tips:
- Be expressive and use inflections in your voice rather than the same tone when you talk.
- Gather your thoughts before talking, speak clearly and don’t mumble your words.
- Be conscious of speaking too fast – it’s easy for this to happen when you’re nervous.
- Don’t use colloquialisms or slang words, and drop the um’s and ah’s when speaking (or at least be conscious not to use them often!).
- Stay on topic and avoid talking about your personal situation or giving too much information away.
- Don’t be afraid to disagree with your interviewer but only if you can present your argument in an interesting and friendly way – people like nice people.
- Be honest – if you’re asked about something you don’t know the answer to, say so and tell them you’re willing to find out and learn.
Practice Makes Perfect
Be prepared! If you front up for an interview not knowing much about the role, company or industry you’ll find yourself in a very awkward position – it won’t matter how good your communication skills are, you will look unprofessional. You can’t present your communication skills in the best light if you’re under-prepared and feeling nervous because you know very little about the position you’re being interviewed for. So be sure to do your research and practice some of the techniques we’ve mentioned above beforehand.