Public Speaking Tips to Succeed at a Job Interview

Posted by Pat Delorean

public speaking tips

As graduation approaches, you may wonder how you paid thousands of dollars for an education and never learned any job interviewing skills. Well, you probably did. You’ve most likely taken a speech course in your college career. You can actually apply much of what you learned there to the interview process. Check out these public speaking tips that will help you nail your interview.

Open with a hook

Find a way to make an impression right away and differentiate yourself from the pool of applicants. If appropriate, a quick joke or funny story about your chaotic trip to the meeting place can break the ice immediately.

Quickly scan the room where your interview is taking place. You can compliment the view, the décor, or something the interviewer is wearing—as long as you’re sincere. If you’re in somebody’s private office, you might see an item that you can relate to. By creating an instant personal connection, you discourage the interviewer from brushing you off early.

Tailor your answers to the audience and occasion

As in speechmaking, your job in an interview is to give the interviewer the information he or she wants in an engaging yet appropriate manner. You wouldn’t crack a joke to open a presentation on euthanasia or tell a personal anecdote about your stamp collection during a speech on healthcare. So while the general advice about a memorable opening still stands, you need to customize your approach.

Always tailor your answers to your industry, the job you’re applying for, the person interviewing you, and the company he or she works for. The information you offer should always benefit one of these four elements. For the dreaded “Tell me about yourself” question, simply mention anything that fits the occasion.

You can easily prep for an interview by making a list of all your accomplishments, travels, hobbies, and so forth. Then cross off the ones that won’t make a case for you. For instance, if you’re applying to teach English in a foreign country, the fact that you’ve completed 10 language trees in Duolingo shows that you’re a good match for the job. Your food service experience doesn’t.

Use your resume as notes for a speech

Even though your interviewer has seen your resume, he or she may ask you about certain points. Of course, both you and the interviewer may have a copy to refer to during the interview. But you need to be able to describe each item more fully instead of simply reciting what the person can see for himself or herself. In other words, turn your resume into a flowing speech or story, and add interesting details.

Watch your timing

If you answer every question with an incomplete sentence, brief phrase, or monosyllabic grunt, you may be conveying the information requested. But you won’t be demonstrating your communication skills, social skills, emotional IQ, and many other abilities the interviewer is looking for. On the other hand, you need to limit yourself; don’t steal the interviewer’s thunder by going too long with your answers.

Anybody who gives a speech needs to strike the right balance as far as the length of the talk. The audience doesn’t want to hear somebody ramble on and on, but they do want some color and life delivered with the information.

Finish strong

Don’t just say “Thank you” and leave. Come up with a memorable closing statement and practice it until it sounds natural. Last impressions are often as important as first ones. How you end your interview also demonstrates how you will interact with colleagues, vendors, and customers. A confident handshake and a smile will seal the deal.

Remember: An interview is a speech given to an audience of one. Sure, you’re not standing behind a podium, and it’s hoped that you’ll take a less formal tone when interacting one-on-one. But by applying public speaking tips to your interview, you’ll be on your way to a position in no time.