Successful Communication Behaviors in an Interview

Successful InterviewIn an interview, the communication skills of a person carry a lot of weight in determining whether he or she will be successful in the interview. Lois J. Einhorn, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric at State University of New York, conducted a research study on the correlation between the success of applicants in employment interviews and their communication skills.

The study investigated how communication plays a role in the interview process, in order to identify what successful applicants did that unsuccessful did not. In this article, we take a look at what successful applicants did in order to be deemed as hire-worthy by interviewers based on Einhorn’s study.

Identification with Employers

A clear difference between successful applicants and unsuccessful ones in the study is that they showed well-defined career goals consistent with the position they were applying for, whiles the unsuccessful candidates expressed a lack of interest with the company and failed to identify themselves with the interests of the employers.

In the interview process, the importance of showing interest in the company and employer cannot be overstated. Think about a scenario in which two guys want to date a girl they both like. The first guy shows determination and genuine interest to the girl, while the second guy only gives half of the effort of the first guy. Whom would the girl choose?

When interviewing at a company, you must think and act as they do. In order for you to identify yourself as one that is a perfect fit for the company, you need to understand the culture of the company by doing the research.


In Einhorn’s study, successful applicants showed a greater percentage of time spent speaking during their interviews—55% for successful applicants, and only 37% for unsuccessful ones. In addition to speaking more, they also averaged a longer interview time, using 29.5 minutes of the 30 minutes of allotted time, in contrast to unsuccessful applicants, who only averaged 25 minutes.

This data shows that more passive applicants in an interview are more likely to fail. Job seekers tend to forget that interviews are conversations and not interrogations. You need to be active during the interview—initiate the conversation.

In the course of the interview, show assertiveness in your role, strive to be the solution to their problems, and be thorough in your answers.


In answering your interviewer, deliver your answers in a clear voice and in an interesting manner. Avoid using ambiguous phrases such as “I guess,” “I think,” or “I feel.” Using such phrases in an interview could make you look incompetent. Use words that solidify your confidence in being able to do the job, and back them up with stories of experiences that demonstrate your skills.

Do not use words that convey negative emotions. Your word choices during the interview affect the impression you leave the interviewer. Positive word choices not only solidify your competence, but also produce the right mental image of you to the interviewer.


According to Einhorn’s research, successful applicants were articulate in their answers, smiled, sat in a comfortable posture, and offered verbal acknowledgements of what the interviewer is saying.

The effectiveness of positive word choices and being active in the interview diminishes with a dull delivery. The way you speak and your nonverbal communication are important factors in the success of your interview. When speaking, deliver your answers with excitement and interest; do not speak in a monotonous tone, and do not vocalize your pauses with “uh” or “um.”

Conveying the Right Image

At the start of the interview, initiate the conversation by introducing yourself. Ask specific questions pertaining to the job, and structure your sentences in the first person. Instead of asking, “What are the duties of the position?” ask, “What would be my responsibilities for the position?” Doing so will help your interviewer create an image of you being in the position.

In the course of your interview, identifying yourself with the employer, being an active participant in the interview, articulating your answers, and delivering your answers with excitement are all contributors in conveying the right image to your interviewer.

Follow all of the tips above to be successful in your interview.