Digital natives need face-to-face skills

Talking Points

Hays has said that while the current generation of workers may be digital natives many require face-to-face communication skills. As a result of this trend, employers are increasingly vetting candidates’ skills in this area.

“Digital natives have grown up using the internet and mobile phones, and while they can quickly grasp the latest online communication tools, face-to-face communication has been the cost,” says Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand.

A recent study found that globally, 65 per cent of Gen Z and Millennials communicate with others more digitally than in person. Consequently, employers are increasingly factoring a candidate’s face-to-face communication skills into their recruitment decisions. Why? “No matter how much technology evolves, face-to-face communication is fundamental for employee learning, productivity, wellbeing, relationship-building and ultimately, career progression and good business,” says Nick. “Nothing can replace the human interaction needed to build lasting professional relationships that businesses still rely upon. And just because you are a digital native, it doesn’t mean you don’t have the face-to-face communication skills needed to thrive in the world of work. It’s just a case of taking proactive steps to prove this in an interview.”

To do this, Hays advises:

1. Prove you can build a rapport with others

“When you arrive for your interview, greet everybody you are introduced to, regardless of whether they are your interviewer or not, with a warm smile, eye contact and a firm handshake. While these people won’t make the final decision, they will often feed back to the interviewer.
“Listen to your interviewer as they speak, and be careful not to interrupt. After all, listening is a key part of effective communication.

“Body language also plays a big part in face-to-face communication and rapport-building. Looking around the room, leaning back in your chair or fidgeting can imply your mind is elsewhere. But positive body language, such as sitting up straight, leaning forward, and nodding and smiling as you are spoken to, will show that you are paying attention and are engaged in the process.”

2. Answer the interview questions with confidence and clarity

“Another common concern that we hear from our clients is that because digital natives communicate so much online, and so are used to being able to edit what they are about to say before they hit ‘send’, they are sometimes less confident and concise when it comes to speaking in front of others. Employers worry that this will be a hindrance when it comes to speaking in meetings, giving presentations or talking on conference calls.

“You can tackle this concern during your interview by answering questions confidently and clearly. Before your interview, it may help to follow some recommended confidence boosting steps, such as taking deep breaths, picturing positive outcomes and speaking with your recruiter who can put your mind at rest.

“Practice answering common interview questions, and sticking to a structure like the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action and Result) in order to keep your response concise and relevant to the question asked.”

3. Be responsive in your communications, both before and after the interview

“Your interviewer won’t just be assessing your communication skills during the interview itself,” advises Nick. “They’ll also be looking at how communicative and responsive you are before and after as well. For instance, they may well consider how quickly you respond to phone calls, and how forthcoming you are in opening up the lines of communication yourself. So keep your phone close by and be proactive in contacting the interviewer after the interview to thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the job.”

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