How To Communicate in An Interview

For many job-seekers, it’s a nerve-wracking time and especially for school leavers and young graduates. For guidance on how to reach this stage read my article, Handling Your First Interview

Remember, getting to this point is a great achievement – They like you already.

There is only so much you can pick up from a piece of paper. There are some people who, conventionally, tick every box – they have good grades, great experience, are fully qualified – but as soon as they walk through the door, they are as dull as dishwater. You can be average in school grades, qualifications, experience and STILL convince the interviewer and get the job. It’s about how you present yourself, about your communication skills.

James Caan CBE, from Dragon’s Den, wrote in a recent article:

 “If I listed the things that stood out about every person I have ever hired, personality and the ability to communicate would rank the highest.”

With that in mind, Lets look at 3 key areas:

Breaking The Ice

It is always good to connect with the interviewer on a personal level, this will not only show your communication skills, it will humanise you both. Looking at your surroundings, you might see a family photograph or an award certificate. Now you can say, “I notice you won X award, that’s a great achievement. Who were you up against?”

Engaging in conversational dialogue is an essential skill and your interviewer will be impressed.


Once the conversation has started to flow, it’s time to engage with the interviewer and apply the research you’ve conducted about the business and the role in question. Most interviewers will always ask a candidate what they have learnt about the business. Doing a quick Google or Wikipedia search, will not always work. Discover what makes the company “tick” – their goal, their drive, their competition. Identify who the company’s competition is and any interesting news shared recently (websites will normally have this in a “News” or, “pressroom” tab. Now, that tells an interviewer you’re serious about the job on offer. Here is your opportunity to ask as many questions about the role as you can, ready to match your experience with the required skillset and prove you’re more than competent.


The pinnacle of the interview process is illustrating how you can add value to the role and become the missing part of the puzzle in the interviewers’ eyes. This is where STAR comes into play.

  • Situation:

Start by giving a backstory and setting the scene – the who, what, where and when. Introduce a challenge you faced by giving your interviewer a little context.

For example: “With both parents having successful careers within the Engineering sector, they expected me to follow in their footsteps. However, I have other drams and aspirations.”

  • Task:

Secondly, you explain what was required of you, what did you have to achieve? Share your thought process and how you intended on accomplishing the task.

For example: “I had to find a way of starting out on my own and find an alternative route that would help convince my parents I was able to create my own career path” 

  • Action:

What did you actually do to make it happen? How proactive were you in ensuring the completion of the task? You can highlight any personal attributes that were tested, always referring back to your desired role.

For example: “I decided to break with tradition and started writing for a magazine. I was continually challenged throughout my journey and like many other writers, I questioned whether the long hours were worth it.” 

  • Result: 

What did you learn and how have you effectively applied this? Explain what your actions achieved and whether or not you met your objectives.

For example: “I managed to identify a need in the market and used every bit of passion, drive and dedication I had to make it happen, whilst continually developing essential soft skills such as communication, teamwork and decision making.”

If you have follow this process, you’ll be in a very good place. You will instinctively know whether the interview has gone well or not but leading the interview like this shows you are eager yet respectful and sure to make a lasting impression.

Then it’s time to play the waiting game being positive and motivated. 6 Techniques To Keep You Motivated


Share your interview experience with us.

Do you have something valuable to add? We can share it with other jobseekers.

Landing A Job You’re Not Qualified For

As formal and well planned as the business world may look, in reality it can be quite chaotic on the inside. Critical decisions often get less thought than they really require.

It’s easy think that hiring managers actually know what they need when they write the brief for job vacancies. The truth is somewhat closer to throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. In fact, they may need someone completely different from the person they describe as the ‘ideal candidate’.

That leaves you looking at a job you’re not qualified for, on paper at least. In reality, you may be supremely well qualified for the job! I don’t blame you if you’re a bit confused but all will become clear.

HR people accept that the standard process for creating a job spec is flawed but it’s a process we’re all used to. It was adopted back in the 1940s, and is still very much in use today. Today’s job vacancy briefs are created by writing down a list of Essential Requirements that somebody effectively pulls out of thin air. The Essential Requirements on the job ad may have nothing to do with the actual job and sadly, many recruiters are conditioned by an archaic culture.

We use a faulty system we inherited……….. Because, we’re used to it.

A friend of mine tried desperately to break into the sales executive jobs market. After applying for 34 jobs, he realised he was flogging a dead horse.  James, was the perfect candidate. His soft skills are ideal but while recruiters have obsessed by demanding a 3 yrs sales record, they’ve missed a trick.

Frustrated Managers become overwhelmed by compiling a vacancy and their imagination runs wild.

Confused by identifying 3 or 4 key skills, they feel compelled to get their money’s worth and deliver the criteria to HR that resembles a formula 1 driver required for multi-drop deliveries.

We can recruit more intelligently. We can ask better questions of our job applicants than, “How many cars did you sell?” We can ask human questions and start a real conversation. By developing more creative interview skills, recruiters will be able to recognise characteristics below the surface. It’s these traits that ultimately expose the success or failure of candidates. Strong soft skills can improve on or develop new hard skills.

Social media is helping to pave the way how some forward thinking recruiters hire.

But, we can also do a lot to change how we approach that next vacancy.

Look at the article explaining Why You Need To Use A Pain Letter

Let us know about your experience.

What Are Soft Skills And Why Do They Matter?

Soft skills are associated with a person’s “EQ” (Emotional Intelligence Quotient). These are a combination of personality traits, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, optimism and social demeanour that characterize relationships with other people. These skills are individually unique as they are related to your feelings, your emotions and your insight. Many of your soft skills are inherently developed, through nurture in childhood and further developed in the work place. These unique skills become honed and tweaked throughout your career and prove highly valuable in many work sectors, when combined with Hard Skills (those skills which are occupational requirements, developed through education)

A person’s soft skills are an important part of their individual contribution to the success of an organization, especially those organizations dealing with face-to-face communication.
Employers identifying soft skills, such as dependability and conscientiousness, can yield significant return on investment for an organization. For this reason, soft skills are increasingly sought out by recruiters and employers, in addition to standard qualifications.

Soft skills are worth £88 billion to the UK economy. However, a survey of over 2,000 employees revealed 1 in 5 people wouldn’t feel confident describing them to an employer and over half have didn’t include them in a CV believing they were irrelevant or “a bit naff” (or corny, to my friends across the pond)

Consider these 5 skills that can make the difference to grabbing that dream job!

  1. Communication

  2. Communication is by far our most essential skill and a pre requisite for any job role.
    You will already have demonstrated one facet of this skill set by submitting a CV and correct spelling and grammar are a good metric of your attention to detail. To maintain good eye contact, demonstrate a varied vocabulary, adapt your language to suit your audience, listen and present your ideas effectively can be the difference between getting the job or not. Fundamentally, your communications skills are what ultimately make the lasting impression.

  3. Time management

  4. Do not underestimate this skill. Meeting a tight deadline, working within a project timeframe and arriving on time to a meetings or perhaps an interview, are all absolutely essential and can make or break a first impression.
    Using your time effectively makes you more productive and allows to achieve more within a given time frame. Remember gents, don’t believe that only woman can achieve Multi-Tasking Nirvana. Use your adaptive and versatility soft skills to master your time management.

  5. Teamwork

  6. Merely assessing candidates on their Hard Skills and IQ, is not enough. Forward thinking employers are asking the question, ‘will this person fit in?’ Chances are, that’s the question employees will be hoping the interviewer thinks about. Culture is crucial to any business’ success and an employer will want to make sure you have something to add.
    Integrating within a group and shared dynamic, creates a positive environment. Business confidence runs high when you have a cohesive team ethic.
    Sharing a time you worked well as part of a team illustrates your sociability, willingness to support and pro-actively contribute to creating new ideas and achieving goals.

  7. Taking responsibility

  8. Taking responsibility is a skill borne of confidence and courage. Do you remember steeping forward to volunteer for a task? By taking that step, you demonstrate this skill by emphasising how you can follow and manage a process from start to finish. What it also highlights it that you can work alone as well as part of a team. For any employer, this is critical when measuring success.

  9. Decision making

  10. Do you possess the fortitude to make the right choices, not afraid to take the initiative?
    Think about when you needed the confidence and courage to make a decision where you decision effected a positive outcome? Be sure to use this example when you next edit your CV!
    Confidence is the key ingredient. ‘A decision’ rather than ‘no decision’ is more important.
    In fact in some cases, even out weighing a bad result.

To close:

Social Media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, linkedIn etc., are becoming a recruiting tool for dynamic businesses.
They recognise that acquiring good talent is the merger of both soft and hard skills and leading media sites present that, albeit informally.
What is becoming more evident is that soft skills will change the recruiting mind set, more and more.