Positive verbal communication is the use of speaking skills that help you present the best aspects of yourself in the context of the job for which you are applying. When combined with positive nonverbal communication, such as smiles, upright posture and a firm handshake, a job candidate can leave an excellent impression on the hiring managers with whom they interviewed. In this article, we provide examples of positive verbal communication skills to show best practices for an interview setting.
Types of verbal communication for interviews
The way you speak to the person who is interviewing you will set the tone for how you are perceived throughout the interview, and if you get the position, during your tenure at the company. Here are some aspects of verbal communication that can help candidates present a positive impression during a job interview:
- Using appropriate pitch and volume
- Listening skills
- Being clear and concise
- Using humor
- Being polite
- Asking questions
Using appropriate pitch and volume
Speaking tone and volume can help create a positive first impression. Maintain a medium volume, not loud enough to be perceived as irritating or arrogant and not soft enough to be viewed as timid. A pleasantly pitched voice of medium volume can show an understanding of the situation and etiquette and will show that you are comfortable in your surroundings while respecting the gravity of the situation.
Active listening skills
To speak well, it is first important to listen well. Make sure you pay close attention to the words of the interviewer and stay focused on their words rather than on the room or noises coming from outside. You can show you are listening by nodding, smiling or by the use of words and phrases such as, “I see,” or “That’s interesting,” or “I’ll definitely note that point.” You can also write any interesting points that you may want to refer to later.
Good conversation will carry back and forth between interviewer and interviewee. If the interviewer makes a suggestion. that shows that they may want you to interject, do so even if the sentence wasn’t phrased as a question. If the interviewer pauses, then take your cue and pick up the thread of conversation. Here’s an example:
Hiring manager: “Your last work experience seems to be an unusual choice for you.”
Candidate: “Yes, it was the first time I had worked for a museum or large research facility such as the Brampton Aquarium & Research Center. As you can see from my resume, my previous work experience had always been with pet stores, but I had always enjoyed the educational aspect of my job and thought I would find more of that at the museum. While I did greatly enjoy my time cleaning the tanks, I missed the interactions with customers—particularly with children looking to buy their first pet! I learned a great deal about the care of aquatic life at the research center, and now I’m happy to pass that knowledge along to my customers at Tropical Fish Stores.”
Being clear and concise
Keep your answers to the point. Be clear and direct with your questions and your answers, even if you are asked a question that encourages an in-depth response. Aim to express yourself with the fewest words you can. For example:
Hiring manager: “It seems like you only stayed at the play area supervisor job for four months. That’s a pretty short time, especially compared to all your other jobs. Can you tell me what happened here?”
Candidate: “Sure. I took the job while I was looking for assistant teaching positions right after I had moved to Miami. One suddenly opened up at a preschool very close to my home. My supervisor at the play area was understanding, and I filled in on weekends and evenings until she was able to find my replacement.”
Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses, but discuss how you’re trying to improve. This strategy can provide a clear understanding of what you’re capable of and what you may need additional training on when you are hired. For example:
Hiring manager: “I see that you’ve always worked the sales floor before, but this job we are interviewing you for is more of a backroom position. You won’t be out with the customers, you’ll be restocking shelves and bringing sizes to the sales team. Are you comfortable with that?”
Candidate: “I really enjoy customer interaction and the back and forth of helping them find the perfect pair of shoes. I would love to do that again. But I also love shoes, and I don’t mind spending my time surrounded by them in the back room. I have always hoped to work at this company, and if I have to start in the stock room, I will do my best at it.”
Humor serves many purposes, such as putting people at ease, reducing tension, allowing people to make connections and cheering people up. It also acts as a bridge in allowing someone to bypass formalities to get to know you better. Using light humor during an interview can be a helpful form of verbal communication, but it should be done sparingly. Humor in an interview should pertain to matters at hand.
It is also wise to take the hiring manager’s lead when it comes to using humor. If they start joking with you, you can also follow with a light-hearted sentence or two. However, if the interviewer presents a more serious approach, it is wise to follow suit.
Good manners are always a wise policy to use. Use greetings when you arrive and when you leave and introduce yourself to everyone in the room if there is more than one interviewer. Accept water or coffee if it is being served to everyone, but decline if you are offered but no one else is drinking anything. Apologize if you accidentally interrupt someone while speaking and acknowledge others’ statements. When you leave, make sure you thank everyone in the room for their time. Examples of phrases you can use include:
When you arrive:
“Good morning. Thank you so much for this opportunity.”
“Hello, I’m Ella McBride. It’s nice to meet you.”
During the interview:
“Pardon the interruption.”
“I’m sorry; please continue.”
After the interview:
“Thank you for this opportunity.”
“I appreciate your time.”
“I look forward to speaking with you again soon.”
If you are allowed to do so, ask questions to the interviewer. Doing this not only will help you collect more information about your potential employer, but it will also show your genuine interest. For example:
“I understand that your company takes part in volunteer activities regularly. When is your next volunteer project, and what charity are you working with?”
“Earlier, you mentioned opportunities to create a larger social media presence for the company. Is that something you are planning to outsource, or is it something that could be added to this position?”