"How would you answer this?" "What would say?" "Is there a response that's better than all the others when it comes to 'this' interview question or 'that' interview question?"
As a communication professional, I get these kinds of queries all the time. Recently, this one came across my desk: "How would you respond to 'Describe yourself in 5 words?'" It captured my attention because, if you know me ... well ... you know I can be quite long-winded, especially in one-on-one situations. As such, I saw this as a good challenge for proposing a strategy for how one would successfully (and obviously succinctly) respond to this in an interview by identifying what to say and what not to say.
Stand during your phone calls. It can be tempting to sit while you take/make calls, preferably at a desk where you can easily access your notes or where you think you will feel most comfortable; however, there are 4 big reasons why sitting during this performance - because let’s face it; you are performing on a business call - is not as effective as standing. If it helps to pretend you're in a phone booth where there's limited potential of standing, then do that. Whatever it takes, stand during your phone calls; read on to find out why!
Human resource professionals and hiring managers look for two things:
How you communicate verbally and nonverbally can make all the difference in whether you get the job offer. All the difference. Read on for 6 big communication do's, don'ts, and best practices.
You have 50 or 80 minutes at a time and a room full of students. (If you're a speaker/trainer/sales or marketing pro, you have a room full of professionals. Read on, and get the bonus messages.) You do your best to reach them with active learning techniques, the effective use of technology, and/or meaningful assessments and questions. You almost feel like you have to be a superhero to ensure everyone gets it ... to ensure everyone is engaged ... to ensure everyone is positioned to see utility in the information you provide. Put some of the responsibility on your students' shoulders, and have them do this one thing - regardless of their major and regardless of what you teach - to positively influence the trajectory of their academic success. That one thing is ...
You've heard it before: before you present, learn as much about the audience as you can. Gaining information about your listeners positions you to know what to say and that which you need to delete from your script. If you proceed with making a presentation without knowing exactly who is in front of you, then it can be like blindly poking and jabbing with your threaded needle in search of the right opening to affix a button. With this presentation preparation, you will know which points you should strongly emphasize, and you will know what might be hot topics that should be avoided. (Of course, politics, religion, and money are always off the table ... unless, of course you are giving something like a financial planning workshop, but I digress. Besides, you know what I mean!) When you learn as much as you can about the audience beforehand, you have a good idea of how much foundational information to provide and how deep of a dive in which you need to go to establish definitions and a framework so everyone is on the same page. Okay. Sounds good, right? But how exactly is that done? There are three stages involved with finding out who will be in your audience and how to work toward tailoring a message that will sew seeds of good ideas and resonate with your participants.
In Fall 2018, one of my first-year college roommates (and for those of you who know me well, no, I'm not talking about my sister-in-law ... for those of you who haven't heard this story, the roommate I had during my second, third, and fourth years of college also became my sister-in-law!), celebrated the release of her first book that is a memoir as well as a tribute to the history of modern soul food.
In it, she includes stories about being in the kitchen with her grandmother, having a high school crush, and growing up in Texas with her two sisters plus over 50 recipes sure to speak to the heart and sufficiently fill the belly. In the fall of 2018, she was invited to an expo to read excerpts from her book and ended up bawling before her audience. BAWLING!
She quickly wrote me, asking if it was normal to feel overwhelmed and to full-on cry during a speaking engagement. I told her ...
It's just talking, right? But it feels like I'm talking to strangers when I'm in an interview. And the pressure mounts even more when there's not one interviewer but three or four!
And some of the questions they ask ... today they are not the typical ones you see online. Sometimes they throw me off my game and ask questions that really seem to require only a one-word answer.
And what about when they ask about weaknesses? I know you're supposed to turn it into a positive, but how does that work?
Oh! And follow-up questions. Sure, I can ask "What is a typical day like in this position?" or "Why do you like working here?" but what else can I ask that will make me sound like the one to hire?
These are the sentiments I've heard from professionals in recent weeks, and I want you to know one thing: I've got you covered. Check out 7 tips that are partially rooted in my philosophy on effective presentation skills because ... well ... an interview is you presenting on the best topic ever, yourself! This is how you show them you are an all-star and that you are unequivocally THE ONE to add to their team!
Did you miss the first 5 things? Check them out HERE! And numbers 6 through 10 are HERE!
11. Never apologize for interrupting/stopping conversations. You have heard a presenter say it; he/she will ask the audience to engage in a conversation about X, Y, or Z, then after a certain amount of time, the presenter will say something along the lines of "I'm so sorry to stop your conversations." This statement is pointless considering these are conversations that must come to an end in order for you to continue with your presentation.
Instead, thank the audience for the robust discussions, then move on with your presentation. Consider saying "Wow! What great conversations! Thank you for engaging. Now to the next point." (Bear in mind you can always evaluate if what you have to say next is as impactful as the conversations. If what the audience is discussing brings more value than the content you had prepared, then consider letting the conversations continue for a few more minutes before continuing with your presentation.)
12. Never diminish your power. For instance, avoid ...
a. saying it's your first time doing anything, e.g., making the presentation, designing a presentation, traveling out of the country, et cetera.
b. saying "I don't know." (Want to know what to say instead? Read this.)
c. folding your arms; remain open and warm. (Check out this post to find out what to do with your arms and hands.)
13. Never position the audience to engage in too much multitasking.
Here's a true story ...
There are those times when you are scheduled to make a presentation, but you simply do not feel up to it. Not at all. Not for a minute. So what do you do? Do you phone it in? Cancel and reschedule? See if you can get a replacement?
Here are real scenarios, most of which I have personally experienced, plus what the best presenters do even in the worst of times. It's tough, but this is the mindset to have when the absolute last thing in the world you want to do is make a presentation!
Even in today's digital society where so much networking takes place online, there are those instances when you have to physically attend networking events. And when you attend networking events, sometimes interacting with others can make you feel like anything but a boss. Some of the challenges you face include but are not limited to trying to find something interesting to say, looking for genuine ways to make newcomers feel welcomed, and finding somewhere to sit down because your feet are killing you! Just kidding ...
When you are networking, you are making a presentation. And no matter your industry or your position, you are an ambassador for your company and, most importantly, for yourself. In this post, you will know how to effortlessly engage with others at networking events with utmost confidence even if you absolutely DREAD small-talk or even if you love small-talk and want some new tactics for making your conversations even more interesting. You will know how to look and sound like an amBOSSador.