People Skills for Interviewing (and life)
Good people skills are defined as the ability to listen, to communicate and to relate to others on a personal or professional level. ‘People Skills’ is an umbrella term for skills and abilities for personal effectiveness and interaction skills which are based on verbal cues, body language and personality styles. Everyone who wants to succeed needs to be fluent in people skills. These skills extend to include problem-solving abilities, empathy for others and a willingness to work together toward the common good. Some people are ‘naturals’. They seem to effortlessly display great people skills. The good news is that anyone can learn great people skills by developing high self-awareness (emotional intelligence), gaining the ability to recognize other people’s styles and to adapt and interact successfully with others.
First impressions are important.
Before there is a spoken word, eye contact and a smile can develop a positive impression in the blink of an eye. Add a firm, friendly handshake when you are introduced and you are off to a good start. (COVID excepted.)
Handshakes make a big difference in first impressions.
Always stand up when shaking hands. Make contact with the web of your hand to the web of the other person’s hand. Give a firm grip and make eye contact. Smile and stand up straight. Introduce yourself using your first and last name, making sure to clearly enunciate while speaking.
Eye contact is one of the best attributes of human expression.
Eyes can be direct or elusive, as well as show a million different emotions in just one look. Even one glance can tell you a lot about a person’s character. Eye contact in the United States conveys interest and confidence, and can show and earn respect. Eye contact shows that you’re on the same page in the most straight-forward way. As they say, “Eyes are the window to the soul.” Remember to be respectfully inclusive of all of the interviewers so that no one feels excluded.
Show enthusiasm for the position and the company at all times.
Energy is often considered to be a good thing in interviews as long as it is associated with enthusiasm and not the jitters. Stay calm yet enthusiastic. It’s best not to drink too much coffee or too many energy drinks. Your interviewer is trying to determine if the company wants to work with you. A smile shows confidence and goes a long way toward showing your friendlier side.
Remember your body language and posture: sit upright with your shoulders back. No slouching! If you are interested, there are many articles and books on body language. If you’re really good at understanding body language, you have the code to “reading people like a book”.
Project a positive attitude.
This does not mean being a ‘yes’ person, but rather it means being open to taking on challenges, showing gratitude and being respectful and polite to others. Grouching is NOT an admired trait.
Listen. Really listen.
Ask for clarification if you don’t understand the question or want guidance. Try to “get” the question the first time it is asked. Keep in mind that it will become annoying if you repeat every question or ask for clarification every time. Be sure to answer the question asked, and then wait for the next question, or ask a question of your own. Oversharing or giving too much information can be as damaging, possibly more, than under sharing. Rambling and/or repeating makes you look bad and is generally boring for the interviewer(s).
Be positive and honest. Answer questions truthfully, frankly, and succinctly.