Online Public Speaking

Training & Practice

Interviews - Part 1 of 2

People usually think of “public speaking” as giving a speech in front of a big group. Interviews may not be on a big stage in front of many people, nevertheless they are often given on a very important stage.

We include interviews because they really are a form of presentation. This information is designed to work in conjunction with the information found in the Path and the Research Area.

An important “speech”

Let’s face it. When you enter an interview, you’re about to give a presentation. You’re literally presenting yourself to the interviewer for them to decide if they want to bring you into their world.

Here are some quick notes on a variety of components of a speech that can help you in your next interview.

Begin by saying thank you

Immediately thank the interviewer for the opportunity to be considered for the position. Be very clear about this. Don’t just say “Thanks”. Say something like “Thank you very much for the opportunity to interview. I know you probably have a lot of candidates, so I really appreciate your time.”

Listen to your audience

After saying thank you, the single most important thing in an interview is to listen to your audience. Find out what is most important to them.

Interviewers will often tell you what they’re looking for.

The problem faced by many candidates is that they can’t stop talking long enough to listen. Focus on and be interested in what the interviewer has to say.

This “over-talking” phenomenon is likely due to the fact that being in an interview can have so much impact on the candidate’s future that it’s hard for them not to make it all about them. Of course, the fact that it is technically about the candidate doesn’t help either. Nerves are another factor.  Inexperienced or nervous interviewees often feel that they have to fill empty space with talk.  Resist the urge!

Balance your speaking with some good listening. If the interviewer’s not giving you much, ask some questions to try and find out what they are looking for.

Respond to their needs

If you can get a feel for their goals, it’s time to respond accordingly. Don’t sound canned with your answers. Try to sound genuinely interested (if you are) along the lines that the interviewer is looking for.

For example, if the interviewer says “This is a fast paced environment. People have to be adaptable”, don’t jump up and say “Wow, I LOVE fast paced environments!” Wait for the right moment and say something like “I am very good at multi-tasking. My experience at such and such included a lot of it. I prefer being busy to sitting around.”

We can’t overstate the need to listen to the interviewer and respond to their needs to help increase your chances of getting the job.

Listen, think, talk. Repeat!

Say Something

Remember to speak!  Many candidates sit there and smile and only answer questions they’re asked, and give short answers at that. Share a bit of your personality with the interviewer so they can get a sense of what you would be like to have around.


Some candidates go into way too much personal detail. Try not to make the interviewer uncomfortable by giving them “TMI”, too much information.

If you’re going to tell the interviewer personal details about you, make sure they’re positive and relevant.  For example, telling an interviewer things like “I really need this job since I’m broke” or “I just broke up with my boyfriend” may be honest, but they’re not a good idea.

Find something in common to relieve tension

There’s often a wall up between people when an interview starts since there’s stress on both sides. The interviewer is worried about finding the right person so  they look good at their job, and the candidate is worried about getting a job.

It’s a perfect formula for tension. Finding common ground is a great way to relieve it.

Try to find something that you genuinely share in common. But be careful not to sound like you’re digging, nor do you want to sound like you’re a phony when you do this.

If you see a photo of the interviewer on the wall holding a fishing pole and a fish, and you happen to fish also, don’t yell “WOW! You fish? I fish too! How cool is that!” Wait for the right moment and then nod at the photo and say “Are you a fisherman?” That might lead to a whole new topic.

If you do this well you’ll also help the interview turn into a conversation. You’ll change the dynamic from interviewer/candidate, which can be very formal, to two people talking. You’ll become more memorable than the last candidate who just droned on about themselves or who sat there with no personality.

End of Part 1 of 2