Acting the part at interviews

At a recent training day run by 2 wonderful actors from Vox Coaching, Andrew and Pete (no cardboard cutouts or clones!), we careers service staff were taken back to our roots to examine communication skills. Via many a role-play and ‘elevator pitch’, we were reminded of some of the key principles of effective communication. Illuminated superbly by Pete and Andrew in their witty interactions, demonstrations, and role-play of 10 different ways to introduce yourself (some more effective than others!), was the power of non-verbal communication.

This is something we careers advisers talk about a lot when working with students who’re preparing for interview, the importance of ‘it’s not just what you say, but how you say it’, plus appropriate body language.

Your research into a job and organisation, plus your self-research – evidence of what you’ve done in the past which indicates your suitability for a job, your skills and experience and knowledge – is vital.  However, it’s only part of the preparation. You also need the vocal tone and body language to accord with what you’re actually saying. Otherwise your words will be lost.

Andrew and Pete illustrated this with the Mehrabian model, or as they preferred to call it, the Communication Camembert! Although the exact percentages can be disputed, the central message that effective communication needs a combination of the 3 elements of content, supported by appropriate tone and body language, (or the 3 Vs if you prefer alliteration – verbals, visuals and vocals) holds true.

Positive body language includes:

  • Good eye-contact,
  • smiling (appropriately – no Cheshire cats!),
  • appropriate gestures to convey enthusiasm
  • Confident posture

Positive tone includes 

  • varying your tone to making it interesting
  • confident tone
  • appropriate speed – not too fast (or slow)
  • effective use of pauses for emphasis

And none of this will be possible without that essential of the actor’s trade – the rehearsal! Pete talked about rehearsing in every room of his house, not to be word-perfect, but to be familiar with the material, and ways of delivering it effectively. No actor would perform in a play without 4 weeks of rehearsal. You may not need four weeks, or to use every room in your house/flat/accomodation, but you do need some practice in speaking your ‘lines’ out loud. This could be via

  • friends/family asking you questions
  • talking to yourself!
  • using a recording device and playing it back
  • a practice interview at the Careers Service

For more on research and preparation for interviews, research via the Careers Service website, and make sure you’re a star performer at interview!

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