Aoife Murtagh

Aoife Murtagh


Aoife has 18 years of experience in the development and delivery of educational training. Holding several educational qualifications, she has been instrumental in developing a wide range of courses designed to empower learners, overcome barriers and build resilience in order for them to achieve success.

All of us are aware that our communication skills play a vital role during an interview. You could be a subject expert but if you are not able to portray your knowledge in the right manner, it can be a deal-breaker. Aoife Murtagh provides some fresh insights on improving your communication style so you can excel at interview.

Concise Communication Style

Long, rambling answers, – padded with repetition and irrelevant information – don’t win job interviews. If the interviewer is bored, they won’t remember you afterward. Or they might remember you as “the last person I want to listen to in staff meetings!”

We all know it’s better to answer interview questions concisely. Easier said than done.

How do you do it?

Avoid verbal wandering, plan a clear path! Put together a good, long list of questions you’re likely to be asked, and then write a simple, bare-bones “talking points” outline of your answer for each one. (Don’t write full sentences, because you’ll end up reciting a script and sounding phony.) Then edit your outlines. Ask yourself, which details will “sell” me as the right person for the job? Make sure you include those! Which details could be left out? Delete them.

Now, practice saying your concise answers aloud until they flow easily. After going through this process multiple times over several days, you may find yourself speaking more succinctly even in answers you haven’t prepared!

Finishing up your Answer

Sometimes interviewees ramble for lack of an ending. Here are some ways to end an answer smoothly:

  • Refer back to the question: “So that’s how I’d describe my management style.”
  • If you’re telling a story, end with the successful results you achieved.
  • Relate what you’ve been saying to the job you’re interviewing for: “…and I imagine you’ve had similar situations here.” or “Does that sound like a strategy that could work here?”

Still wandering off into the verbal weeds?

  • It’s a habit. To break it, practice giving answers that are actually too brief, followed by a question, such as: “Would you like me to go into more detail?”
  • If you catch yourself rambling, practice “bottom lining” your answer: stop yourself with a statement like “To get straight to the bottom line…” or “The most important part of this story is…” Then get straight to the point.

To Joke or not to Joke!

Using humour in an interview takes a deft hand and a balanced approach. With the push and pull between professionalism and approachability, potential candidates may want to tread with caution before cracking jokes in the interview process.

When used correctly, however, humour is an essential element in establishing likability and can even indicate that a candidate has the essential analytical skills necessary to relate disparate events, whether for a laugh or professional reason. Establish the perfect balance and you’ll be well on your way to humour induced interview success. Laughter is, after all, the thing that makes the world go round.

Using Industry / Technical Jargon in Interviews

Each industry comes with its own buzzwords. When you’re outside of the field, this jargon can be off-putting—like a secret code keeping you from following the conversation. But if you’re in the know, and the jargon is familiar, using it during conversations is a bit like a secret handshake—it lets interviewers know you really get the industry.  To use jargon, of course, you’ll have to understand it, so if you’re new to an industry or field, read up on familiarise yourself with it. Follow people in the industry on Twitter, connect with them on LinkedIn, and seek out relevant blogs and videos.

Communicating Confidence

In all interactions, confidence (but not over-confidence) is crucial. Demonstrating confidence will give interviewers faith in your abilities to deliver what they need, and that you will follow through with what you have promised. Conveying confidence can be something as simple as maintaining eye contact during a conversation or using a firm but friendly tone when speaking with people over the phone.  Be careful not to come across as aggressive, since this will have the opposite effect of what you are hoping to achieve.

The New Normal – Online Interviews

Job interviews using Skype or other systems have risen in popularity because of the numerous advantages. The world has become a smaller place and with international recruitment no longer a rarity, it offers a practical alternative to flying half-way across the world for a one-hour job interview.

Although there are similarities to telephone interviews, it does have an added advantage as the interviewer and candidate can at least see each other. However, one of the key differences between being interviewed by Skype and a face-to-face interview is that you don’t have the direct physical presence which can make it more difficult to get your personality across to the interviewer. Therefore, you will need to be even more aware of speaking clearly, confidently, and using appropriate body language, such as smiling.

How we answer job interview questions is an important part of whether or not we are going to get the job. It is not the only part. Find out more about the importance of Non-Verbal Communication during an Interview in our next Blog.

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