6 Ways Public Speaking Can Help You Nail An Interview

December 11, 2015

Speaker at podium holding out armBy Ashish Arora

Landing a job interview is a bit like going on a first date: You’re excited the other person is interested but terrified you’ll come across as an idiot. Thankfully, there are ways you can make sure your prospective employer sees you in the best possible light. One of the best ways to do this is by using your public speaking skills.

After all, a job interview isn’t too different from a speech. The only real difference in an interview is that you get to sit down and often you’re not the one doing all of the talking. In both scenarios, however, what you say is just as important as how you say it.

Here are six public speaking tips that will help you nail your next job interview:

Be the Expert

Generally, only experts of some variety are asked to give speeches in front of an audience. For instance, Neil deGrasse, famous astrophysicist and cosmologist, is an expert in science. When he speaks in public, he doesn’t lecture on making the perfect cupcake because that is not his subject of expertise (as far as we know).

In a job interview you are naturally the expert because you know all about YOU.  You know about your background, strengths, skill set, and challenges you have overcome in the past.

Many interviewees feel dread and panic when they hear the phrase, “So, tell me about yourself,” but this is your opportunity to communicate what it is about your personality, work habits, background, and interests that make you the right candidate for the job.

You can easily prepare for this just as public speakers would craft their speech. Below are some tips for how to tackle this:

Marry Confidence with Passion

All good public speakers know how to balance authority with enthusiasm. They know how to get their information across in a way that is digestible, but also do so with passion and emotion so the audience pays extreme attention to every word they’re saying.

Tony Robbins is one of the most popular and engaging public speakers because he is able to speak authoritatively, but still convey passion. The confidence he emits lets the audience know they can trust he knows what he’s talking about, and the passion lets them know they can trust that he means what he’s saying.

You must also be able to strike this balance in a job interview. Be confident in your abilities to perform the necessary tasks, but make sure to also be enthusiastic about those tasks. So many interviewees solely focus on why they are right for the job but not why the job is right for them. By balancing confidence with passion you will stand out in a potentially-crowded field of candidates.

Emulate Politicians

Some of the best public speakers in the world are politicians. Their entire campaign depends on them being able to convince throngs of people they are the best candidate for the job. Notice when politicians speak, they do so as if they already had the job. They say, “I will do this” not “I would do it.” They also say, “I can,” and not, “I could.” This not only sounds confident and removes any doubt from the listener’s mind, but also shows a level of proactivity.

Listen to Hillary Clinton speak. The woman has been a politician for many years and it shows. She is direct and confident and makes sure to phrase all of her answers during debates and interviews with “I wills” and “I cans.”

You will also score points if you speak like this in a job interview. Just be sure not to make those corny hand gestures all politicians make.

Take the Necessary Pauses

Engaging public speakers know when NOT to speak. They aren’t afraid to take those pauses that keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

Spend some time watching a few TED Talks and you will see a great presenter knows exactly when to pause. They aren’t afraid to stand there for five seconds to make a point with silence.

When asked a question in an interview, it’s natural to want to pause first and consider your answer before starting in. Just keep it under four seconds (studies have suggested that pauses in speeches or conversations that are longer than that make listeners feel awkward).

Don’t be a Rambler

Know when to wrap up your answers. Even if the interviewer hasn’t given you any visual signal such as a nod or smile, don’t be afraid to stop speaking once you feel you’ve answered the question. It is always better to say less than more. If an interviewer wants to know more, he or she will ask.

Put the Spotlight on the Interviewer

Often, after a public speaker has finished, he or she will open the discussion up for questions. This inclusion of the audience keeps them engaged and turns a speech into a conversation.

Be sure to get a conversation going in your interview as well. For instance, at the end of the interview, most interviewers will ask if you have any questions. This is an opportunity to show interest in the company and put the spotlight on the person who, up until now, has asked all the questions.

You can ask things like, “Where do you see the company in five years?” and “How would you describe your managerial style?” After all, the job must be a good fit for you, not just vice versa.

Obviously no two interviews will ever be the same, but if you follow these six public speaking tips you will have a much better shot at landing your dream job.

About the Author

Ashish Arora is the Co-Founder of SketchBubble.com, a leading provider of result driven, Professionally built Presentation Templates.

You can also find Ashish on Twitter or LinkedIn

Photo courtesy of Getty Images