How To Stand Out to a Hiring Manager When Technical Skills Aren’t Enough
When it comes to applying for jobs, your qualifications and technical skills alone are no longer enough. Employers want more.
Obviously a lot of emphasis is placed on your technical skills (or hard skills) when you apply for a job. And showcasing these skills correctly on your resume is important to get your application past an applicant tracking system and through to the interview stage.
But once you’ve made it to the interview, employers might look at a different set of skills: your soft skills. And communication is a big one. This is where you really need to shine in order to impress an employer and land a job offer.
Candidates with strong communication skills are in high demand by remote employers the world over. Why? Because working remotely poses some unique challenges when it comes to communication.
You’ll need well-rounded communication skills in order to work effectively and productively as a remote team member.
If communication skills are not your strong point, it’s worth your while spending some time to develop them. After all, strong communication will be a valuable asset to any organisation in any industry, and can really help with the trajectory of your career.
In this article we give you tips and advice on the different areas to focus on in order to demonstrate your communication skills during an interview. We’ve also included links to online courses that you might like to check out if you want to dive a little deeper.
So, let’s see what you can do to 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 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; this is a time to digest and reflect on what was said.
And before you head into an interview, you can 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.
Online courses to power-up your Listening Skills
- Improving Your Listening Skills by Dorie Clark (LinkedIn Learning)
- Becoming an Active Listener by Gaynor Strachan Chun (CreativeLive)
- Conscious Listening by Julian Treasure (Udemy)
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, even when interviewing remotely.
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.
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.
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.
Online courses to brush up on your Body Language:
- Digital Body Language by Erika Dhawan (LinkedIn Learning)
- The Power of Body Language by Vanessa Van Edwards (CreativeLive)
- Confidence & Self Esteem: Develop Confident Body Language by Jimmy Naraine (Udemy)
Strengthen Your Verbal Communication Skills
Obviously your verbal communication skills are key, particularly at the interview stage. 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.
Online courses to improve your Verbal Communication Skills
- Interview Master Class by Careercake (LinkedIn Learning)
- The Complete Communication Skills Master Class by TJ Walker (Skillwise)
- Black Belt Communication: Verbal Skills for a Bolder New You by Eugene Vassilas (Udemy)
And remember, 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, practice some of the techniques we’ve mentioned above, or dive into some online courses. Preparation + Opportunity = Luck!
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash
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