Is it true that “talking back” during the job interview or performance review will hurt your chances of getting hired or promoted? Well, yes and no.
If your tone of voice, body language and how you phrase things come across as combative or defensive, then yes, your interviewer or supervisor will probably count it against you. However, there are ways to advocate for yourself and make a positive impression while doing it.
Here are our top tips, straight from the uber-experienced HR people at Integrity.
Know your value.
Make a list of all your on-the-job strengths, achievements and educational credits. Rehearse a few stories about times your contributions made a positive impact on the team’s or the company’s success. Having these ready to bring up during the meeting will not only make a good impression, it will boost your self-confidence as well. And confidence is catching — if you believe you’re the best employee they could have, so will they.
Speak to the other person’s point of view (not yours).
As any good salesperson will tell you, your first step is to understand what the other person wants. Then you talk about how your product (in this case, you) will give it to them. For example, explain how hiring you or giving you more responsibilities will help meet the company’s goals.
This reminder applies both to your physical appearance and your mannerisms. You want to come across as put together, in control of your emotions (even during difficult conversations) and able to meet any challenges the job may throw at you. Your clothing and grooming should match what company management wears every day; whether it’s a suit or khakis, it shows your awareness of the culture.
Practice answering difficult questions.
There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than being thrown a tricky question during an interview. These questions could range from asking for an explanation about a problem spot in your resume to ones designed to reveal something about your ability to think fast, such as, “If you were a bird, what kind of bird would you be and why?”
Days before you get to the meeting, google the commonest tough questions and how to answer them. This will save you from being blindsided. And if you do get surprised, don’t be afraid to pause and think; this shows that you can’t be flustered. Above all, never answer with a negative. If they point out that you don’t have a specific job requirement, talk about the similar experiences you do have, and that they will enable you to learn the new skill quickly.
Be prepared to ask questions.
The meeting will probably end with the interviewer asking if you have any questions. Saying no, or asking something weak, will make them think you are too passive. Now is the time to show how interested you are in succeeding at this position. Here are some ideas (save the ones about salary until after you get an offer):
- What would my day-to-day responsibilities be?
- What does success in this position look like, and how is it measured?
- Who would I be working with most closely?
- What are the opportunities for career growth?
- What do you personally like most and find most challenging about working here?
The face-to-face meeting is your best opportunity to show your prospective or current employer how much of an asset you will be to the organization. With these tips, your self-presentation will be a success. And you’ll have taken the next step toward your career goals.