Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pregnant Pauses During the Interview Process

When job searching, the first thing that you need to wrap your head around is that, regardless of your vocation, you are now in the business of sales. Sales is all about knowing your product and presenting it well. You can take for granted that you know your product better than anyone does. After all, your product is you and who knows you better than you know yourself?

Now that you are looking for a new opportunity, it’s time to brush up on your presentation skills. Countless interviews are in the offing and you need to be ready for each and every one of them. Here are some tips to help you curb your ‘hmmms’, “errs’ and, “uhhs’:

Nature may abhor a vacuum, but that is no reason to fill the dead air with sounds that have no other purpose except to ‘buy’ you some time to think up something intelligent to say. Factually speaking, it does quite the opposite. Filling dead air with no real words, gives listeners the impression that you don’t know your subject. If the subject is you, how can that be possible?

Hint One: If , during the interview process, you need to take a moment to put your thoughts together before answering a question, do it. Take a pause. Say nothing until you have formulated your answer in your head and wait until you have the confidence to say it aloud. Pauses will always feel much longer to the speaker than they do for the audience. When you have said what you have to say, stop talking; then, visualize the first word of the next sentence and start again. Time, after all, is relative. Albert Einstein once said that, “A second with your hand on a hot stove feels like an hour, while hour with a pretty girl feels like a only a moment. He also said that, “Gravity cannot be blamed for people falling in love”, (but that’s a quote for another type of blog.)

Hint Two: Break your responses into smaller sound bites. It is always okay to refer to notes. Nerves will play havoc with your ability to remember the facts. If you keep the salient points handy, you are less likely to forget any of them.

Hint Three: Use the STAR technique for answering questions:

S = Situation - Describe what needed to be done
T = Task - Describe the steps you needed to take to solve the problem
A = Actions - Describe how you accomplished the tasks
R = Results - Describe the results in a quantifiable manner

Hint Four: When composing your ‘cheat sheets’ use large font and bullet key words to help you jar your memory

Hint Five: If you don’t understand the question that has been posed, ask that the question be repeated. This action will help you clarify the details you will need to answer the question completely and to the best of your ability.

Hint Six: Learn how to modulate your voice. Answering questions in a monotone voice will put your listeners to sleep regardless of the value of your message.

Hint Seven: Don’t forget to breathe.

In my many years of teaching people how to present effectively, I have seldom found a problem so crippling to credibility and connection with the audience that is so easily solved. Once you drop the ‘hmmms’, “errs’, and “uhhs’ from your normal speech pattern, you will be amazed at the increased impact you have on your listeners.