by Carmine Gallo Monster Contributing Writer
Being a good communicator during a job interview means inspiring your listener by speaking with passion, clarity and conciseness. Let's examine each quality:
Starbucks founder Howard Schultz told me that he surrounds himself with people who share a passion for his company's values. "When you're around people who share a collective passion around a common purpose, there's no telling what you can do," he says.
Nobody wants to hire someone who is tepid about the company's values, product or service. Identify what you're passionate about, and convey that passion during your job interview. But spend time truly identifying what fires you up about working for a particular company or team. For example, Schultz is not necessarily passionate about coffee. Sure, he loves it, but he's more passionate about building a workplace that treats people with dignity and respect.
Here's another example: I know a person who scored a great position with a computer-storage company after wowing a recruiter with his passion for the industry. He loved the fact that storage technology changes all the time, so it's never boring. He was also challenged by the growing needs of consumers and businesses to store ever-increasing amounts of data. Sure, he wanted to make money at his job, and maybe he enjoyed perks like bonuses, stock options and 401k matches, but he won the position only after identifying his true passion. It happened to be more than a paycheck.
Former GE CEO Jack Welch was famous for firing managers who didn't explain their work clearly. Jargon turned him off. Recruiters feel the same way. Hiding behind excessive jargon is a clear sign you're either trying too hard or don't know what you're talking about. Bright leaders can take the most arcane topics and make them come alive by telling stories that contain examples, analogies and anecdotes.
For instance, if you're looking for a position in HR, you can tell the story of a particularly touchy situation that you handled with tact, confidence and professionalism. If you're applying for a PR position, explain how you successfully managed a media campaign for a demanding client and the specific results you achieved. The point is to have a story or two ready, but no more than two for a 15-minute interview. And keep them short.
As a former business journalist, I admired those executives who could speak in sound bites, or 30-second answers. Does this mean you should talk this way? Not at all. But rest assured that recruiters and managers highly prize conciseness in job candidates. If you can't grab someone in the first minute of a conversation, you've probably lost him for good. Work at keeping your answers brief. Do you spend three minutes answering a question that could take 45 seconds once you cut out extraneous words and concepts? If so, edit something out.
When I was interviewing Sybase CEO John Chen for my book, 10 Simple Secrets of the World's Greatest Business Communicators, he told me that when he evaluates potential employees, he places a premium on each of these three qualities. If two people with similar credentials and experience interview for the same position and one is lifeless, convoluted and verbose while the other is passionate, clear and concise, who do you think will land the job? Master these three qualities to stand above your competition.