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The right person, not just the right skills

|  —  23/01/18

It’s not just what you say in a job interview that determines your success, it’s how you say it.

How you communicate tells interviewers about the type of person you are and it’s much more than the words that you speak: It’s your body language, manner, tone, listening skills, and the general ‘vibe’ you give off.

Some interviewers even have a separate score card for these ‘additional competencies’ as well as one that marks how well you answer the questions.

Why? Because interviewers are looking for the right person for the job, not just the person with the right skills.

Essentially, they’re judging your character and whether you’d be a good fit for their organisation based on the way you behave in that 30-45 minutes when you’re nervous.

No pressure, right?

But while it may sound scary, it doesn’t have to be. There are some simple things you can do to score highly in these ‘other’ areas and show interviewers you are the person they’re looking for.

Here are seven of them:

  • Be warm and friendly. Smile! Not just to the panel, but also to the receptionist when you arrive. NEVER underestimate the power of being nice to the receptionist.
  • Greet the panel with confidence. This is particularly important if the job you’re going for involves meeting new people, clients, or stakeholders often. A bit of ‘fake it until you make it’ might come in handy here.
  • Show sincere interest and enthusiasm for the role. If you don’t seem interested or enthused, why should the panel be? Researching the company and role beforehand helps with this.
  • Maintain eye contact and show attention to all panel members, not just the most senior person. Sucking up to the boss in an interview and ignoring others is not a good look.
  • Practice active listening. Wait until the interviewer has finished speaking before you start to answer. Pay attention to what is said and clarify what has been asked rather than sprouting something that doesn’t answer the question.
  • Speak correctly, using appropriate grammar and vocabulary – even if you know the interviewer and are comfortable around them. Remember, you’re in a job interview, not talking to a mate at a barbecue.
  • Keep body language open and engaged. Sit up straight, don’t cross your arms or sit on your hands.
These tips are not about changing your personality or pretending to be someone you’re not, they’re about presenting the best version of yourself.

Don’t underestimate their impact.


Leah Mether is a communications specialist, trainer, author, professional speaker and director of Methmac Communications.

Tickets are on sale now for her Interview Skills workshops in Traralgon and Leongatha in February. Go to for further information.

Leah Mether is a communication and soft skills trainer obsessed with making the people part of leadership and work life easier.

With more than 15 years’ experience working with thousands of clients, and an acclaimed book to her name, Leah knows what it takes to communicate under pressure. Like you, she knows the challenge of conflict, personality clashes, and difficult conversations.

Leah is renowned for her practical, engaging, straight-shooting style. Utilising her Five Cs® model of communication, she helps leaders and teams shift from knowing to doing, and radically improve their effectiveness.

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