Communication is an integral part of the modern environment since people build their relationships and make their decisions collectively. Business communication skills are especially critical to have a good job and climb the career ladder as a result of personal and professional growth. This paper will focus on self-assessment of communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal, in such settings as behavioral interviewing, designing rapports, networking, interpersonal communicating style, and so on to understand personal strengths and weaknesses by integrating course materials.
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Career Choices, the Profile of “Ideal” Job Applicants, and Assessing Organizations
The essence of business communication is that it has a regulated nature and is limited to a specific topic or range of issues. It is carried out, as a rule, in the course of business interaction in a working environment, both in the form of direct personal contact and through technical means. As noted by Efron, proper questions, experiment to discover the career path, and alignment with passion are the key features that are necessary to determine career choices.
Considering the above statement, I can state that my strong point is a clear vision of my future career and goals since I continuously ask myself about my aspirations and passion. In particular, my career choices are to be based on questioning my own expectations from my profession and its benefits. As for my weaknesses, it is possible to note that I have no action plan from a long-term perspective. It seems advantageous to work on planning and set communication goals in terms of my career choices.
The topic of the profile of an “ideal” job applicant refers to a strong corporate story every successful employee should be able to tell the company he or she applies to (Barnes 3). Personally, I can evaluate my skills in the given field as insufficient due to a lack of emotional components. The storytelling process should address such questions as who am I and who we are. Through such stories, an employer would be able to trace the background and experience as well as beliefs and values.
As was noted earlier, my values are clearly determined, that is, perhaps, my key strong point as a job applicant. The profile of an “ideal” candidate also implies some authenticity and motivation. In particular, the article by the above author helps to understand that I have to prepare for the interview by creating a compelling personal story, thus attracting a potential employer and presenting my strong sides.
Not only an employer but also an employee should ask some questions with the aim of specifying working conditions, benefits, challenges, and any other information of interest. Konop emphasizes that questions asked by a potential employee also show his or her qualifications. For example, aligning the issue of an “ideal” candidate, an applicant may pose the following question:” what skills and experiences would make an ideal candidate?” (Konop).
The mentioned question is likely to outline what exactly an employer is looking for and whether a candidate fits a certain position or not. From my point of view, asking questions is indeed a rather effective communication strategy. I believe that I am a good listener and an interlocutor. I know how to create proper questions and how to ask them to receive the required response. For example, I would also ask about the problems encountered by the staff, the most positive aspects of working for the given company, the availability of professional growth, new products and services, and so on. Most importantly, it seems important to pose the last question asking about the subsequent step of communication, showing that I am interested in further collaboration.
Thus, generalizing the topic of career choices and interviews with a potential employer, it is possible to stress that I am aware of my strong points, such as clear values and goals, along with my ability to ask questions. At the same time, I have to improve my planning skills and storytelling in terms of preparation for the interview.
Communication Theory and Interviewing
Excellent communication skills are significant to succeed in the workplace. In this regard, communication theory serves as a foundation for how a person communicates, his or her selection of words, tones, and gestures, thus adjusting the way of the conversation. According to the communication accommodation theory, people tend to change their communication styles to suit the person they speak with.
Personally, I may state that I use convergence to be more like the person I communicate with by applying some similar word patterns or gestures. It seems that I do it primarily unconsciously during the interview as it allows becoming closer to the interlocutor and understanding the essence of the conversation. The problem is that the fundamental attribution error often occurs during such communication when a person assigns more importance to the personality rather than the situation, overestimating the former in explaining social behavior (Sherman). For example, in some cases, I believe that my interlocutor is not such a good person as he or she is frequently sad or rude.
Instead, as noted by Sherman, it may be useful to admit that it is the situation that makes him or her behave in such away. The mentioned statement seems to be quite rational, so I consider that I need to work on my attitude to people during communication and especially the interview when communication is conducted face-to-face. In particular, it is necessary not to despair if a potential employer did not call in two days after the job interview. Perhaps, some situational factors impede the decision. In this connection, it may be appropriate to contact him or her and remind him about the conversation.
Behavioral Interviewing (CBBI)
Competency-Based Behavioral Interviewing (CBBI) is one of the interviewing strategies utilized by many employers. It usually requires telling some life examples to reveal how a candidate would act in one or the other situation at a workplace (Hirsch). To provide such examples, an applicant should have a clear vision of what the target company wants from the employees. Particularly, I try to search the Internet seeking reviews and feedbacks about the company, both positive and negative.
The official website is another source of information that is important in terms of comprehending its mission and values and preparing for the interview. It is widely known that the one who owns the information owns the world. Therefore, I am sure that knowing some information about an employer is always beneficial.
Since CBBI is based on the review of competences, it is of great importance to present them during the interview. Following the scheme offered by Hirsch – problem, action, and result – I prepare for communication and remember my experience. My strength in CBBI is the focus on both verbal and non-verbal communication, as both of them would be accessed by potential employers. For example, I apply kinesics, which includes human expression in the form of eye contact, postures, gestures, facial expressions.
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It seems to me the use of non-verbal means in CBBI can help the interviewer get additional information about the respondent, such as determining the emotional state, attitude to the question, doubts or insincerity in the answers, certain personal characteristics, etc. My weak point refers to my ability to present my experience and competence as a story. In spite of the fact that I recognize the importance of the latter, I feel that my answers regarding the mentioned issues are more like a report. Therefore, it seems critical to enhancing my storytelling skills to reflect my past behavior that is a vivid example of how I would act in the future at a workplace. CBBI interview approach affects my interviewing success along with the biographical one and case studies.
It seems appropriate to pinpoint one example of improved behavioral communication using examples from my interviewing experience. During one of my interviews, I used the Situation, Task, Action, and Result (STAR) technique to answer the questions. In particular, I told that my role was to inform clients and coordinate work with colleagues from different services: IT-department, marketing, and call-center (situation). My job was to collect from all departments the necessary data and inform clients (task).
I had to do it quickly, because the decision was made before the release date of the platform, and we wanted to warn customers about a slight delay in a polite manner (action). I managed to communicate more efficiently and productively with customers before the launch of a new platform as the majority of the clients were positive about the delayed message (result). Although some customers were upset because of the limited functionality of the platform, I still managed to communicate the benefits of the functions of the new version, and customers appreciated timely information.
The identified method of answering makes it possible to predict how a person will work based on his or her past. An employer does not receive socially desirable answers, but real working examples through learning how a person acted, not how he thinks it is necessary to act in this situation.
Written Communication and Building Rapport Through Research
The role of written communication in the interviewing process is essential to receive a good job and build proper relationships with an employer. By the very definition, it focuses on resumes, cover letters, follow-ups, and rapport. Zhang claims that researching the company’s profile and some additional information is essential to show the employer a high level of interest. Reviewing my researching skills, I may note that before the interview, I try to find data regarding the company to, most importantly, articulate what differentiates it from others.
Along with the basics, a good candidate should be able to “sniff out the financial health, watch community interaction, and go undercover to learn company culture” (Zhang). This means the observation of financial reports and social media accounts. As for me, I consider it useful to check the company’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts as they reflect the attitudes towards the society and the employees, including the attention to complaints and the level of interaction with the latter. Therefore, my researching skills are good.
While engaging in written communication after the research regarding the target company, it is important to properly focus on the writing process. Smith emphasizes that it should be clear, simple, and readable. In addition, the mentioned author recommends including keywords from the job vacancy and offering someone to proofread either a resume or a cover letter. The above information is new to me, and I believe it is actually helpful. My weakness in written communication is associated with the use of complicated words that I try to include in an attempt to impress an employer. When I receive some job offer, I merely respond to it.
According to Smith, “today companies are receiving hundreds of résumés for each position and, due to the volume, are not acknowledging receipt of them.” Indeed, plenty of resumes and cover letters end up in the black hole due to their inexpressiveness and the failure to demonstrate personality. This is my disadvantage. In order to correct the current situation, I need to implement the recommendations of Zhang and Smith in my written communication.
Interpersonal Communication Style
Bielaszka-DuVernay considers that the concept of emotional intelligence refers to one’ ability to recognize his or her own feelings and those of others for the purpose of self-motivation and managing inner emotions and outside feelings in dealing with other people. The ability to remain calm and be able to control my emotions in difficult situations is a rather important ability in today’s world. Among my strengths, it is possible to mention my self-awareness that is the understanding of my feelings in different situations since I realize my strong and weak sides in negotiations and various working situations.
Self-regulation, the ability to control one’s feelings and impulses, is also my advantage. People who use self-regulation usually do not admit the appearance of strong feelings such as anger or jealousy, and they usually do not commit rash acts (Bielaszka-DuVernay). First, I think and then act and speak.
Empathy is, perhaps, my important weakness of emotional intelligence. Empathetic people well determine the feelings of others, even if these feelings are difficult to recognize. As a result, empathetic people usually masterfully build relationships with others because they know how to listen and influence others. As the ability to recognize desires, needs, and feelings as well as to understand people around, it is sometimes difficult for me.
It seems that everyone should recognize the fact that he or she is a person and can experience any emotions. I need to be prepared for the emotional outbursts caused by repetitive situations and learn how to manage them. For instance, this may be achieved by letting an unpleasant and annoying situation turn into an exercise in solving the problem and learning from mistakes (Bielaszka-DuVernay). When I come across something that requires an undesirable emotional response, I should keep anger concentrating on the behavior. I should learn how to change the situation in such a way that the behavior would become non-problematic, using humor to see the situation from a different angle.
Nevertheless, I use such strategies as listening, confidence, friendliness, and respect in my interpersonal communication. Attention to the respondent’s words with the help of various non-verbal actions may also be utilized, including nodded head, interesting look, and an open posture. However, it should be stressed that all these actions should be conditioned by a genuine interest in the speaker’s words and not represent only a demonstration of attention, which is not in fact. The respondent feels any fake right away. Personally, I focus on my humor and personality by openly talking about my feelings, striving for development, and calmly handling criticism.
Networking: Navigating Communication in Professional Settings
Consistent with Smith in terms of networking, Morford claims that contacts play a significant role in seeking a job, sending a resume, and interacting with a hiring manager during the interview. Taking into account that often managers are avalanched with applications and communication with the candidates, they tend to overlook some of them. In this regard, there is a need to use contacts and the contacts of contacts to deliver one’s resume directly to a hiring manager or to gain a good job position.
In my point of view, I am quite good in the constant maintenance of contacts with other participants of my business network. For example, if I met an influential person, then, in order to receive his or her assistance at the right time, I constantly communicate with him or her. Today, it is easier to do this than ever: I use social networks, sms-congratulations, e-mail notifications, etc. Such reminders act as a specific “communication check”, allowing both sides to be sure that they are in contact. Morford believes that contacts lead to a relationship that grows into business only when these relationships are mutually beneficial. While networking, I give it first, and then I get it.
If the game only goes to one gate, the relationships are not likely to last long, and networking would not succeed. Therefore, I build my networking in the framework of networking require the convenience and cooperation of all parties. My specific strategies are similar to those of Morford, and they involve asking what I can do for others, never referring others to the same specialist, and never asking a written follow-up. It seems that I have no weaknesses regarding managing communication in professional settings.
Challenging Situations: Unusual Interview Approaches and Questions
Sometimes the interview may be quite challenging due to odd questions posed by a manager. For example, I had the following one: do you have a good sense of humor? If yes, please tell an anecdote. To say that I was confused is to say nothing. Preparing for the interview, I remembered my competencies, knowledge, and skills and was ready to provide my background, yet the above question proved to be surprising to me.
Now, I am aware that if I have a neutral joke in my mind that is not tied to politics and vulgarity, I can share it or show creativity and tell an interesting case from working practice. However, in the mentioned situation, I also provided a worthy response saying that despite the fact that it is not my profession to make people laugh and I cannot immediately come up with an interesting anecdote, I did not lose a positive attitude and hope for the opportunity to prove myself already being a member of the company. This interview approach indicates that I am creative enough to respond to such questions.
According to the article by McGregor, the research by Google detected the ineffectiveness of such questions. Instead, the company utilizes “the assessment methods that research has shown to be most predictive of performance” (McGregor). In particular, the new approach shows the impact of technology in interviews: special technical hires are looking for the best match and select candidates. I partially agree with the technical hiring as it can find the fit through keywords yet cannot evaluate an applicant’s personality and the emotional attitudes.
More to the point, as information is transmitted from a person to another one not only with words but with intonation, posture, gestures, facial expressions, etc., I try to include all channels of information perception in challenging situations. I consider that the aside view is not only the loss of information but also an element of pathetic appearance. I find it important to look at the interviewer when I speak, thus making my speech more convincing.
By watching the expression of the interlocutor, his or her posture, and movements of the person listening to me, I can more easily understand how he or she perceives my words. This helps to adjust an answer or a story, if necessary. In other words, I can handle unusual interview approaches and questions due to my creativity and the use of both verbal and non-verbal communication.
Ethics in Interviewing
Some questions asked during the job interview may be confusing and challenging in terms of ethics. For example, one of the scholars working in this field concerns the recommendation to avoid negative points of candidates: “reframing weaknesses as strengths, minimizing or withholding negative information, and giving irrelevant replies one hopes will satisfy the less discerning interviewer” (Kirkwood 170).
According to the mentioned author, such an approach is the violation of candor and subsequently the ethics of interviewing. However, it seems that the transformation of the negative aspects of one’s character is not a rude violation of honesty since a candidate does not hide some information yet present in a positive way. Personally, I believe that the focus on the beneficial sides is more effective to impress an employer.
Some other questions that may cause ethical considerations relate to religion, age, gender, culture, reasons of leaving the previous work, and so on. I believe that I understand how to react to them. By ask an employer why he or she considers the required matter important, it is possible to reveal the genuine intentions. Without aggression in my voice, gently and calmly, I would ask why an employer needs to know about what he or she just asked.
Probably, the reason is connected to the future duties of a potential employee or the mood in the team. I would also tell that some peculiarities regarding gender or race would not affect my ability to do a good job. At this stage, an employer should guess that I think the question is incorrect. I can help him get out of an embarrassing situation and translate the topic. Being polite but confident is the best strategy for the job interview.
To conclude, even though my communication skills in the interviewing process may be evaluated as appropriate, I still need to keep working on them. I understand my role as a communicator both in verbal and non-verbal communication. I experience such communication challenges as poor ability to tell stories about my experience and perceiving messages of the interlocutor correctly, avoiding the fundamental attribution error. This self-assessment assignment helped me to reveal and understand my communication strengths and weaknesses and outline the areas to work on. In sum, I need to enhance my storytelling skills, empathy with an interviewer, planning, preparation for the interview, and my written communication.
Barnes, Elizabeth. What’s Your Story?. 2003. Web.
Bielaszka-DuVernay, Christina. “Hiring for Emotional Intelligence.” Harvard Business Review. 2008. Web.
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Hirsch, Arlene S. “Ace Behavioral Interviews by Telling Powerful Stories.” RGBA, 2006. Web.
Kirkwood, William G., and Steven M. Ralston. “Ethics and Teaching Employment Interviewing.” Communication Education, vol. 45, no. 2, 1996, pp. 167-179. Web.
Konop, Joe. “The 10 Questions You Should Be Asking A Potential Employer.” Huffington Post. 2014. Web.
McGregor, Jena. “Companies Turn to Quirky Interview Questions—Even After Google Says They Don’t Work.” The Washington Post. 2016. Web.
Morford, Margaret. “How not to be a Networking Leech: Tips for Seeking Professional Advice.” The New York Times. 2015. Web.
Sherman, Mark. “Why We Don’t Give Each Other a Break.” Psychology Today. 2014. Web.
Smith, Jacquelyn. “6 Tips for Avoiding the Resume Black Hole.” Forbes. 2013. Web.
Zhang, Lily. “Ultimate Guide to Researching a Company Pre-Interview.” The Muse, 2016. Web.