Ace Your Job Interview

What to say when an interviewer asks, 'Are you a confident public speaker?'

Speaking in front of large crowds may not be a requirement for every job, but hiring managers still want to see that you can represent the company well with your communication skills.

In a recent episode of CNBC's "The Job Interview," in which candidates interview for real jobs while being filmed, one CEO asked each applicant, if you had to speak in front of 10,000 people, what would your fear level be, on a scale of one to 10?

Ron Holt, the CEO of Alabama-based residential cleaning company Two Maids & A Mop, asked this question while interviewing candidates for a new franchise operations director role. His company plans to expand to more than 300 markets within the next five years, and he says that it's crucial to have someone in this role with excellent business communication skills.

In response to his question, Holt received a disappointing answer that caught him by surprise.

"I would say an eight," one candidate replied. "We've got to be honest with each other. I'm not going to sit here and tell you, 'Man, I got this.' I'm not the most eloquent person. I'm not articulate. If it's 10,000 people, I don't know if I would want to be that person for Two Maids & A Mop."

The candidate did not receive a second interview.

While you should be honest about your skills in an interview, displaying confidence even when discussing your weak spot is key to landing a position.

According to bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch, hiring managers are interested in hearing honest feedback about your weaknesses. But they also want to know that even if you aren't great at something now, you are willing to work towards improvement in the future.

She says when asked about a skill that's reflects a weak point, show what you have done to fix it "and how you plan to continue that process in the new position."

In the case of Holt, he was looking for a candidate with a confident answer about how they'd communicate to the best of their ability in front of a crowd. In the end, the candidate who won him over expressed little fear around public speaking and proved that they were ready to take on the new role.

Video by Jon Fazio

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