Interview Language Skills and Interview Body Language Skills

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Interview Language Skills by Candidate Tips

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Great interview language skills will help you secure the role. Remember, interviews are a game, and how you look, sound and the words you say are part of that game. When you think about interview language skills, you probably think about the words that are used. This is a natural conclusion but, surprisingly, the words used are a relatively low priority when it comes to communicating at interview (or any other interaction for that matter).

Introduction to Interview Language Skills

Most communication is non-verbal, and is through physiology (body language, breathing, slight changes in skin colour around the face, and movement) and the use of voice (tone timbre, tempo, volume). This leaves only a small percentage for the words themselves.

That is why in some organisations there are people who look and sound like they know what they are talking that have become successful. Yet if you listen to their words, you realise they are not saying anything new or that makes a great deal of difference.

It also explains why the most brilliantly minded professor standing behind a lectern with her/his head down reading in monotone from a script is often not listened to. They only effectively use the 7% of communication – the words themselves. When using language there are four rules of thumb that help effect a positive outcome.

Say it how you want it to be – Positive Language

Ask people “not to think of a blue tree” and what do they think of? Tell children, “Don’t drop that tray of glasses”, and what will they do? The psychological message (the command) in the language is far more powerful than the surface message. It is more difficult to think of a negative.

Ask people “not to think of a blue tree” and what do they think of? Tell children, “Don’t drop that tray of glasses”, and what will they do?

For example, replace “I wouldn’t want you to think that I am bad at managing my time” with, “I am a good time manager”.

A useful strategy is loading your language to get across the message you want. Tell people what you want to achieve, not what you don’t. A good parent will avoid saying to a child, “Don’t drop that try of glasses”, because the tray will almost inevitably fall out of her hands. Instead they will say, “Hold on tight to the tray”.

Make it Sound Like it will Happen and Avoid Weak Qualifiers

You have probably met the “try” or “hopefully” person. “What I’m going to try to do, hopefully, possibly to explain, with a bit of luck, how to be fairly positive, maybe, about this job”. Would you as an interviewer be convinced such people knew what they were talking about, or that you could trust them to be effective in the job? Removing weak qualifiers projects a confident image. Add them and you project an image of uncertainty.

Change the Word ‘but’ to the Word ‘and’

If someone says to you after you have put your case forward, “Yes, but….” How are you going to react? It immediately creates a barrier between us. It detracts from what was said. Instead of introducing a negative, you could say, “Yes, and….” The difference between an “and” and “but” reply is that I perceive you as adding something and not taking something away from it. This strategy takes time to develop. Once you have developed it, you can go on using it in all interactive situations. Sometimes the simplest tools are also the most powerful!

Assume you will Achieve What you Want

Rather than saying, “If I was in this role I would….” you should say, “When I am in this role I will….” By the way you use language you can build in an assumption that you will reach agreement and the job will be yours.
Rather than saying, “If I was in this role I would….” you should say, “When I am in this role I will….” By the way you use language you can build in an assumption that you will reach agreement and the job will be yours. Load the language until you reach the point where you and I are talking together about being successful. By your language assume that we are going to do business. Talk about when we’ll do it, not if we’ll do it! We want to create a picture in the interviewers mind of you actually doing the job.

Learn to Actively Listen

The most fundamental fact in interaction is that the other person likes to be listened to and know that you are listening to them. This helps understanding, openness and enables the process to flow. How do we show we are listening?

  • Nodding appropriately.
  • Maintaining eye contact.
  • Picking up on what said and repeating it back. There are two particular skills that are worth developing for this purpose:

 

Skill Useful for
Mirroring the Interviewer: “Interpersonal skills are important to us”Interviewee: “Interpersonal skills are important to you”

 

Mirror a key statement to encourage explanation

Probing for more information; Encourages the interviewer to keep talking.

 

 

Paraphrasing: “So you’re saying that the reason you were not able to achieve the planned reduction was because…”

Re-stating in your own words what you have heard

Checking understanding

 

Interview and Body Language Skills! Black-belt Skills

….employers often informally turn to the terms ‘comfort factor’ or ‘fit’. What this essentially means is an often subjective assessment of how comfortable they are with you, or worse, how much they like you!
So, you have all the skills, experiences, competencies, qualifications, and personality to meet the needs of the job that you have applied for. Unfortunately, there is a strong likelihood that so have a number of other candidates. What is the missing ingredient that will get you the job? In these circumstances employers often informally turn to the terms ‘comfort factor’ or ‘fit’. What this essentially means is an often subjective assessment of how comfortable they are with you, or worse, how much they like you!

As contradictory to a good selection practise this is, it is nonetheless a fact of life and one you have to live with. The good news is that there are ways of ensuring that you are the candidate they are most comfortable with. These have been labelled ‘black belt techniques’ simply because most managers are yet to be trained into these skills. That leaves you with a competitive advantage!

Creating Interviewer Rapport and Comfort

Research has found this to be the basis for what makes excellent communication. Remember that what your body does and how you say things in an interview are part of interview language skills. It helps ensure the interviewer feels comfortable with you and that you are just their sort of person!

Rapport is about respecting the other person’s model of the world. In other words, the ways for ensuring the interviewer thinks you are just like they are. These skills are now widely used by top sales people and professional negotiators, human resource departments and some caring professions.

We know from research that similarities in people attract each other. Similar people tend to get on and are comfortable with each other. Rapport is about ensuring that you are just like the interviewer – their sort of person. How do you do this? Through the communication process itself. The fundamental foundation of rapport is that research shows communication is made up from three elements in the following proportions:

  • Physiology – 55%
  • Voice – 38%
  • Words – 7%

1. Physiology – Imagine you’re looking around at people in a restaurant. Even though you can’t hear what they are saying, you’ll soon notice which ones are in rapport and which ones are not. Where you start to see the same attentive levels and a mirror reflection, this is called rapport. The people in rapport are the ones who, without realising it, follow each other’s movements, gestures and expressions. People in rapport tend to match and mirror each other. Catch yourself when you are with a close friend or partner and you are both relaxed. Notice how your bodies are in similar positions, you pick your drinks up at the same time, you may even breath simultaneously. Then move your body into a different position and see what the other person does.

Imagine you’re looking around at people in a restaurant. Even though you can’t hear what they are saying, you’ll soon notice which ones are in rapport and which ones are not.
Who follows whom? Difficult to tell – it just tends to happen naturally. By consciously ‘matching’ and ‘mirroring’ the other person, we can speed up the whole process. This is called ‘pacing’ the other person.

This is a subtle art that can be practised with everyone you meet until it becomes a natural interaction program. Physiological signs to look out for of rapport between people are:

  • Gestures – British tend to be quite reserved and they will tend to be micro (reserved). It is very important to be comfortable in doing gestures or it will appear that you are making fun of the other person – not good for rapport! If the interviewer uses her/his hands to gesture, also use your hands to gesture when you are explaining. Remember that you must be comfortable doing this.
  • Posture – How people line up their spine when they are seated. This includes the position of their shoulders, head as well as their arms, legs, hands and even their fingers. The lining up of the spine is the most important physiological sign to look out for. If the interviewer sits straight-backed with their arms resting on the table, so should you.
  • Facial Expressions – Observe facial expressions and mirror them. If the interviewer has a serious expression, and you sit with a grin on your face, you are then not entering into their world and the communication process is fraught.

2. Voice – As with physiology, you can also pace the other person by the use of your voice. Use similar tone, clarity (enunciating V’s mumbling), and volume. People who talk quickly, like to hear others talking quickly. The beauty of developing rapport with a quick speaker is that you can match his or her pace and gradually slow it down to a more modest speed that becomes acceptable to you both.

3. Words – Although low down on the scale of importance, there are important things to be aware of:

  • Key words – People have words that they like. If they like them then you use them so you are talking the same language. Before long, you will be presenting your ideas in a way that they would present your ideas. Never replace their word with one of your own. Effectively you would be taking away from their thoughts. Organisations often develop their own language and this becomes the norm and natural for all employees. They may not realise that it is their own language. For them to feel that you are just ‘their sort of person’, you need to pick up on these key words and use them back whenever it is appropriate.
  • Common Experience – People normally think of rapport as asking questions: “Did you have a good journey?” “Did you find the place alright?” Although only a very small part, it does have a part to play. Get in as early as possible any experiences you may have that are common to their own. This is not for selling yourself. Rather, it is to show that you are ‘their sort of person’.
  • Sensory filters – Our predicate is our own preference for processing information. We take in information through all our senses. Most people however, have a preference for one of the other. In an interview, for example, the interviewer might say: “I see what you mean”, another might say, “I hear what you’re saying”, and a third might say, “I grasp what you mean”. In this example, the first interviewer has a preference for ‘visual’ processing; the second for ‘auditory’ processing; and, the third for ‘kinesthetic’ processing (or processing using the feelings).

If you notice which sense the other person speaks with you can adjust your language accordingly and use their sorts or words. This list below provides consistent words that each sort of person may use. Your task in the interview situation is to use the same sort of language back to them to ensure they see, hear or feel that you are just their sort of person.

 

Visual People

(People who use pictures and patterns)

Auditory People

(People who words and logic)

Kinaesthetic People

(People who use their feelings)

See, Look, View,

Appear, Show,

Reveal, Illuminate,

Imagine, Clear,

Foggy, Focussed,

Picture, Appears to me,

Beyond a shadow of a doubt,

Catch a glimpse of,

Clear cut, In light of,

Picture this, See here,

Mental picture,

Looks like, Minds eye

Hear, Listen, Sound(s)

Make music, Harmonise,

Rings a bell, Silence,

Be heard, Deaf,

After-thought,

Sounds right, Clear as a bell,

Clearly expressed,

Give me your ear,

Hear loud and clear,

Hold your tongue,

Manner of speaking,

Pay attention to,

Tongue-tied, Well informed,

Word for word, Outspoken

Feel, Touch, Grasp,

Get hold of, Slip through,

Catch on, Tap into,

Make contact, Throw out,

Turn around, Hardened,

Unfeeling, Concrete,

Get a handle, Solid,

All washed up,

Boils down to,

Feels right,

Come to grips with,

Control yourself,

Get a handle on,

Get in touch with

The language that we use is an indication of the way we think. Most of us have preferences to one or two of these systems. If you listen to your own, and other people’s language, you will begin to notice what their preferences are.

‘Matching’ language is an excellent way of increasing rapport. Some examples of plain language are:

  • Visual – I get the picture, I see what you mean, lets get this in perspective, it appears that, show me, the focus of attention, looking closely, a blind spot, it’s clear to me, a different angle, there’s a cloud on the horizon, with hindsight, he is short sighted, you will look back on this.
  • Auditory – That rings a bell, we’re on the same wavelength, let’s talk about it, who calls the tune, within earshot, let’’ discuss things, I’m speechless, shout from the hilltops, people will hear you, this silence is deafening, it’s music to my ears, word for word, in a manner of speaking, turn a deaf ear.
  • Kinaesthetic – He’s thick skinned, a cool customer, I grasp the meaning, a heated argument, I will be in touch, I can’t put my finger on it, she’s a cold fish, a warm hearted person, we are scratching the surface, let’s dig deeper, hit the nail on the head, you’ll get shot, a lukewarm attitude, I feel it in my bones.

Interview Language Skills Conclusion

Never be identical – there is no point in exactly mirroring the other person. They may catch you out. Just get close.
Some of these interview language skills are tough to master. Start small and practise with friends. We would suggest that you start with mirroring the body language of the person you are talking to. Here are the secrets to getting this right:

  • Never be identical – there is no point in exactly mirroring the other person. They may catch you out. Just get close.
  • When they change, wait until you do – timing is important and there are natural places to get it right. If the other person changes body position, wait until it is you time to talk, and change as you begin to talk. It is the natural place and time to do it.

These interview language skills can be applied to a multitude of situations. they are useful in any one-to-one or one-to-many interactions. In business and your social life, the language skills for interview are completely transferable. The one exception is with your close family friends. You will find that you naturally fall into rapport in any case.

If you are following a pathway, please move on to assessment centres and psychometrics.

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