On business: Seven simple strategies for interview success
November 15, 2013
Congratulations, you’ve landed an interview for your dream job. It validates the qualifications you showcased on your résumé. Now the next step is acing that interview and closing the deal. But how? Start by knowing that hiring managers want to make a connection with you. Your skills and experience are important but other qualities are part of the overall package as well. Before you set out to wow your new boss, consider these seven simple strategies.
1. Show confidence not arrogance
Know the difference between confidence and arrogance. Nobody likes a braggart but a proud enthusiast who’s eager to share success stories is welcomed. How do you gain confidence? By being prepared. Have examples to relate and anticipate answers to tough questions in advance. Your communication techniques are the focus of attention here; don’t just practice saying it, practice saying it right. Remember that you must believe you are the best person for the job in order to convince them. If you don’t believe it, they won’t either. Don’t over-rehearse and come off sounding like a scripted actor. Relax, speak conversationally and establish an easy rapport.
2. Don’t fumble your first impression
Have you ever gone on a blind date or randomly met someone at a social gathering? How long did it take to establish an impression? First impressions typically take less than a minute but they are powerful. Once made, they’re often difficult to change. The interviewer has formed a pre-conceived impression of you based on your paper presentation, positive most likely, since you landed the interview. It’s either confirmed or changed, almost immediately. Body language plays a critical role perhaps as high as 80 percent, as does your personal appearance and verbal exchanges. Do you have to wear shiny shoes in order to get a job? Yes, probably. But it takes more than just shiny shoes. Your interpersonal skills and poise are paramount.
3. Know the power of a smile
A genuine smile speaks volumes. Don’t paste a false one on your face though. It won’t come off well. The best way to actually feel like smiling is to relax. Smiling sends a friendly message, opens up dialogue and makes people feel good. An interesting study conducted by Penn State University concluded that smiling not only makes one more likeable it also makes them appear more competent. A smile is the universal sign of kindness and good will. Don’t squander a great natural resource.
4. Actively listen
Listen carefully with sensitivity to tone. Is your interviewer an effervescent, warm, people person or does he or she have a “let’s get down to business” manner? Allow them to set the tone and follow suit in your own style. Don’t be so anxious that you miss all or part of the questions. Before answering consider “Why is this question important?” What is its intent? If necessary, ask for the question to be repeated. Don’t give responses without careful forethought. Listen with ears, eyes and all senses.
5. Stand out
What sets you apart? It could be that you immediately “click” with the interviewer but maybe it’s the mere mention of a unique hobby or project. Seek out commonalities. Did you attend the same college or cheer for the same football team? Do you have an article to share or a relevant story of interest to relate? Clues around the office might help. “I see you’re a Rotary Club member. I’ve been a member for many years as well.” The bottom line in this: What brings you to mind at the decision table? Make sure it’s a positive recollection as opposed to the alternative.
6. Follow Up
Everybody appreciates a thank you. Cite a topic in your follow up letter that is unique to your conversation. Keep it short and professional but with a personal and friendly touch. Express thanks for the time they spent with you.
7. It’s okay if you’re not perfect
Nobody is perfect so don’t pretend to be. Fired? If you’re asked why, briefly explain and move on without dwelling. What did you learn from it? Always end on a positive note. Never make disparaging remarks about former supervisors or co-workers. If you share imperfections do so prudently. Don’t divulge weaknesses key to the job’s function. Example: “I have problems prioritizing my time” would not be wise to share when the job requires strict deadlines. Focus on strengths and your willingness to learn from mistakes. Honesty and humility are admirable qualities.
Practice, practice, practice.
— Gloria Sinibaldi is a career professional who has worked in the employment field for more than 20 years. She is a trainer coach and job developer. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.