Good communication skills are a tool that, without a doubt, is a successful mechanism in the hands of a skillful speaker. Timely and apposite use of appropriate methods of communication can solve several problems at once, including delivering necessary information and establishing contact with the interlocutor. With regard to the hiring process, one of the mistakes that job seekers make maybe their choice of a poor communication strategy, where the dialogue with the HR manager is incorrectly built initially. Accordingly, the consequences of such an interview are unlikely to be successful for the person applying for the job. That is why it is essential to think in advance about the whole mechanism of communication, specifically in terms of the person conducting the interview, in order to be prepared for any possible question and to present oneself in the most favorable light possible. Corresponding communication theories can be helpful and can significantly simplify the task for job seekers who intend to not only be liked by the recruiting HR specialist but also wish to hold a constructive dialogue.
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Politeness as a Basis for Dialogue
Politeness has always been considered a specific key to establishing contact with the interlocutor and to achieve maximum favorable disposition towards oneself. Thus, before going to the interview, it is necessary to not only build a line for the future conversation but also determine how exactly the conversation will pass. Certainly, much depends on the HR manager as well, but the interests of the job seeker require that he or she should show maximum interest in the interview and leave a pleasant impression afterward.
To be confident that the dialogue does not turn into a rehearsed monologue during the interview, it is essential to remember the norms of good tone. An efficient method, in this case, can be the communication theory of politeness developed by Dainton and Zelley (77). One of its provisions is that a person uses appropriate techniques, for example, corrective face work, in order to impress the interviewer and yet not seem too intrusive. Several elements of this theory can be used at once, such as avoidance, which means avoiding potentially unpleasant questions, and humor that may be relevant to a specific scenario. It is essential for the interlocutor to see that the job seeker is prepared to talk positively and is ready for an open dialogue that does not violate the rules of decency and etiquette.
The Concept of Positive Politeness
In the case of an interview, one of the basic desires of the job seeker in the course of the conversation is to please the interviewer and make a good impression. In this regard, Dainton and Zelley propose a concept of positive politeness, the essence of which is that the speaker expresses the need to look in a good light and strives to be appreciated (79). As a rule, this manner of behavior is typical for most people who intend to convey ideas for personal gain. Arguably, this approach to establish contact is especially successful when the HR manager is a person of the opposite sex to the interviewee. In this case, subconscious factors can act as a means of contact and achieve maximum mutual understanding. However, this type of communication has several controversial aspects. For example, an experienced and serious recruitment specialist is unlikely to appreciate the job seeker’s too obvious attempts to be liked. Therefore, such a theory of communication can only be useful if the atmosphere is conducive to a positive conversation, and in a tense situation, this concept will not be appropriate enough.
The Use of Attribution Theory
One of the communication theories that can be applicable to the process of a job interview is attribution theory. According to Dainton and Zelley, this concept relates to how a person reacts to the interlocutor’s behavior and what conclusions he or she makes based on what has been seen (49). Moreover, this theory “indicates our expectations for others influence our attribution” (Dainton and Zelley 221). Typically, interviews are conducted in an environment where both participants are directly in front of each other and can observe each other’s behavior. Accordingly, when a person acts by speaking certain phrases or making certain gestures, it always finds a response in the opinion of the other person, and specific judgments can be constructed, based on the analyzed information.
A special role is assigned to certain factors. As Dainton and Zelley remark, dispositional factors are the mechanism that plays one of the key roles as they relate to the character, biological traits, and other individual features (35). During interviews, HR managers tend to make an attribution. Accordingly, if the job seeker understands this and takes it into account, he or she can unequivocally use it for personal benefit and conduct themselves in such a way that the interviewer can make a positive assessment. Also, it is quite important to remember that, despite some individual characteristics, almost everyone is inclined to react to certain behaviors in the same way. For example, overly aggressive or harsh behavior is unlikely to be appreciated. On the contrary, taking into account the reaction of an HR specialist and following his or her tempo of conversation, it is possible to construct dialogue in such a way as to leave the most positive impression.
Uncertainty Reduction Theory as a Communicative Tool
One of the rather interesting approaches to communication during the interview process can be linked to an uncertainty reduction theory. According to Dainton and Zelley, uncertainty is inherent in the behavior of quite a few people, and the positions of the theory are tools that can be used when communicating with management or other important people (39). Its essence lies in the fact that a person can substantially simplify his or her life, become more confident, fearlessly prove personal capabilities, and showcase talents. If it is a job interview, this event is quite a suitable place for realizing the terms of this theory and applying for its positions directly in practice.
In particular, it is necessary to remember that hiring is a process in which not only the job seeker is interested but also the recruiters. It is essential to concentrate directly on the conversation and forget about possible excitement and other inconveniences. Certainly, quite often, there is a feeling that communication will not go according to plan, and some people resort to different ways of solving the problem of uncertainty. Dainton and Zelley suggest several strategies that can be used to implement the terms of the theory, for example, an active strategy that involves seeking relevant information from third parties to obtain useful data (42). Nevertheless, the less uncertainty a person feels, the greater the chance that the HR specialist will be able to appreciate the personality of the candidate. The tension will subside, and the situation will become a little more relaxed, which is sure to positively affect the course of the conversation and will help the job seeker.
Cognitive Dissonance Theory to Use at Interview
The theory of cognitive dissonance can be used as a communicative tool in order to persuade people. Dainton and Zelley define this concept as a certain way of communicating personal aspiration to the interlocutor to achieve the maximum result and, at the same time, purposefully to take no notice of the obvious shortcomings of the goal (48). Concerning communication during the interview process, this theory is one of the most successful since the HR manager sees the evident apparent intention of a potential employee to manifest himself or herself favorably and understands the importance of his or her intentions. That is why this approach is quite popular in corporate ethics and is often considered a successful mechanism that allows establishing positive relations among employees.
It has been shown that appropriate communication theories are useful tools to establish good working relations and simplify the task for job seekers who want to elicit a favorable impression from HR specialists specifically and to hold a constructive dialogue in general. In order to achieve these goals, a few specific approaches can be implemented: the politeness theory, attribution theory, the concept of uncertainty reduction, and the approach of cognitive dissonance. Following some of these theories and their concepts can aid success in passing an interview and gain credibility in the eyes of the HR manager, which is the primary goal of most job seekers.
Dainton, Marianne, and Elaine D. Zelley. Applying Communication Theory for Professional Life: A Practical Introduction. 3rd ed., Sage Publications, 2014.