How to More Effectively Communicate with Your Prospective Supervisor

By Jim Hasse

How do you determine whether you're effectively communicating with key people (especially your prospective supervisor) during your second and third job interviews with prospective employers?

First, of course, is the challenge of getting that hiring manager to look beyond your disability.

But, once that's accomplished (a no small task), you need to quickly ascertain the hiring manager's approach to interpersonal communication and how that person prefers to learn and process new information. What is his or her preferred communication style?

Knowing that preference gives you tips about how to complement that style with a presentation in which you both feel "we're on the same wave length."

Getting to that same-wave-length feeling requires that you:

  1. Recognize how that hiring manager is using a particular communication style during the interviewing process.
  2. Adjust your presentation style so it matches more succinctly the hiring manager's communication preference because the goal is to help that decision maker internally process information quickly and easily.

In her research about personality types, Susan Dellinger, Ph.D., has identified several communication styles she says we all tend to use in certain circumstances. However, most individuals, she believes, follow one or two of the communication styles as predominate patterns. And watching for certain cues, she maintains, can help us identify which communication mode a person is currently using.

Here are Dellinger's four styles in terms of how people tend to process information:

The "focused" individual:

  • Learns from first-hand experience, using all five senses.
  • Is logically organized.
  • Focuses on ideas and tasks and how they affect the bottom line.
  • Thinks methodically and predictably but also relies on gut instinct.

The "analytical" individual:

  • Is persuaded by logical reasoning, impersonal analysis and systematic planning.
  • Is concerned more about ideas than people.
  • Needs time to decide and adjust to change.

The "nurturing" individual:

  • Relies more on what people say than technical analysis.
  • Wants to know how people feel about various options.
  • Relies on experience and intuition to make decisions.

The "creative" individual:

  • Thrives on change.
  • Makes quick decisions.
  • Bases opinions on the feelings of others.
  • Generates ideas easily.

Dellinger says CEOs of companies or administrators of organizations tend to be "focused" individuals. We'll likely find "analytical" individuals in the legal or finance departments or in the information services section. "Nurturing" individuals gravitate to jobs in public relations, sales training and human resources. We can expect "creative" individuals in the corporate communications and advertising groups.

These generalizations, of course, are vastly over-simplified. People are more complicated than that. We usually see a complex mix of styles in every occupation. A hiring manager can switch from one communication style to another (just like you do).

From my vantage point, Dellinger's findings can help you communicate more effectively with a hiring manager about crucial topics -- an on-the-job accommodation approach, for instance, during a second or third job interview with the same employer.

Let's revisit Dellinger's four communication preferences to show you what I mean:

The "focused" individual:

Since this individual is logically organized and thinks methodically,

  • Present evidence in an orderly fashion with goals and objectives first.
  • Focus on ideas.
  • Be brief and concise.
  • List pros and cons of each alternative within your accommodation approach.

The "analytical" individual:

Since this individual is persuaded by logical reasoning, impersonal analysis and systematic planning,

  • Present details before the "big picture."
  • Show practical and realistic applications.
  • Focus on your personal experience with other accommodation approaches.

The "nurturing" individual:

Since this individual wants to know how people feel about various options,

  • Present points of agreement first and then the points of potential contention.
  • Support ideas with stories about your previous accommodation experiences.
  • Be willing to use trial and error to find the right answer.

The "creative" individual:

Since this individual bases her opinions on the feelings of others and generates ideas easily,

  • Present the broad issues first.
  • Offer novel and unusual ideas about how the accommodation can be implemented.
  • Speak to her instincts.

Remarks from your hiring manager such as "I get your drift," "That's on target" etc. show you are connecting and communicating with that individual.

If you hear, however, a response such as "Let me think about it," your hiring manager may just be in an "analytical" mode or have something more pressing on her mind. Or you may not be connecting at all, and she's confused and doesn't want to admit it.

Of course, you may not be able to determine which is really happening until the final outcome: you get hired.

That's one small example of why interpersonal communication is an art -- and not a science -- and why those who know how to communicate well within the workplace will always be in demand in the job market.

Why Learning About Communication Styles Is Important

You gain a couple of important benefits (in addition to getting the job) by keeping communication styles in mind to quickly build a rapport with a prospective supervisor, who is usually involved in the hiring process and the final decision maker. Here are a few:

  • You will more likely be able to work out problems with that supervisor, even difficult ones, when you have good rapport and open communications.
  • Your assimilation into the organization will likely be quicker and more complete.
  • You will likely be more productive in your work.
  • You will probably have more opportunity to use your skills on the job and acquire new ones.
  • You will gain a sense of appreciation and security based on your accomplishments in a work world that is anything but secure.
  • You will enjoy work.
  • You will be setting a good example others in the company can cite for hiring other individuals with a disability.
  • You will be demonstrating effective interpersonal skills, which are essential and valuable in today's job market.
  • You will be establishing a foundation for a mentoring relationship with your supervisor and for improved personal development and promotion opportunities.

In short, such a relationship, based on an understanding of preferred communication styles, sets you up for success in your first out-of-school job and in developing a meaningful career. That's an environment for strengthening your self-confidence.


Copyright © 2012. Hasse Communication Counseling. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Jim Hasse, ABC, GCDF, ( has compiled and edited the recommendations of HR experts and the personal observations of both job seekers and hiring managers into Perfectly Able: How to Attract and Hire Talented People with Disabilities (, a comprehensive disability recruitment guidebook for hiring managers published by AMACOM (September 2010), the publishing arm of the American Management Association. Lighthouse International (, New York City, is the author of the 272-page hard-cover book, which continues to evolve online on Hasse's forum, Timely Tips for Retaining Employee Talent ( He is the founder of, the comprehensive career coaching guide for parents of CP youngsters.