Brush up on your communication skills - East Valley Tribune: Business

Brush up on your communication skills

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Posted: Friday, June 30, 2006 2:51 am | Updated: 3:33 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

As you prepare for a job interview, realize what you say and how you say it may be key to landing your next position.

A survey released this spring by the National Association of Colleges and Employers asked employers to rate the importance of qualities and skills job candidates should possess. No. 1 was communication skills.

But employers also stated that candidates lack these skills.

“For more than 10 years, we’ve asked employers about key skills, and they have consistently named communication skills as critical, yet have also said this is something many candidates lack,” Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director, is quoted on the press release.

It’s important to show off your communication skills in some manner during a meeting with a potential employer.

“The reason that’s so important is that just about every single one of us as employees have to use some combination of those communication skills to be successful. If they’re not demonstrating those skills in the interview where they’re able to shine and show their best behavior, what are the chances they’ll be able to demonstrate those on the job?” said Elaine Stover, associate director of the Career Services Center at Arizona State University.

Jim Mancuso is chairperson of the Department of Speech, Communication and Theater Arts at Mesa Community College. He said there are a number of ways job seekers can demonstrate their communication skills in the hiring process.

Dress above what the job calls for, he said. Make eye contact during the meeting. And listen, listen, listen.

“It would be important to employ active listening skills which would mean paraphrasing periodically, empathizing, and asking open-ended questions,” he said.

“When you ask the questions, have a point you’re trying to make or have a position you’re trying to make.”

Open-ended questions are those that start, “Tell me about…” “Why do you say…” and “In what ways…” Mancuso said.

Effective communication skills on the job also include “assertively saying what needs to be said in a way that doesn’t generate hostility” and “using words that create and maintain a supportive climate and can defuse a defensive one,” he added.

Besides communication skills, the survey’s other top 10 qualities and skills in job candidates were: Honesty/integrity, teamwork, strong work ethic, analytical skills, fl exibility/adaptability, interpersonal skills, motivational/initiative, computer skills and detail oriented.

Justin Finnerty, director of the Career Preparation Center at ASU Polytechnic campus, said employers would look for many of these during a meeting.

“When a candidate comes in for an interview, are they able to articulate their responses? Can they demonstrate honesty, integrity, teamwork and work ethic?” he said.

“Employers will ask behavioral-based questions. They’ll ask you questions about a time you were involved in a situation where you were a member of a team and someone wasn’t contributing. Then the candidate can articulate what their teamwork ability is.”

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