Tip #323: How to Ace a Job Interview
“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” Arthur Ashe
Spring is a time of new beginnings, so what better topic than interviewing for a new job? No, this is not meant to suggest that entrepreneurs who experience burnout symptoms should leave their businesses and go work for someone else. And don’t worry, that is not my plan, either. But there are many people looking for jobs right now and so this topic is very timely.
Whether they are interviews for a consulting project or a job, all interviews are ultimately concerned about what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you. If you really want the job, you need to know what the company needs, how your knowledge and skills can meet those needs, and what you have to say in the interview. The following tips will help you plan and implement an effective interview strategy.
1. Plan your interview strategy. Research current issues and concerns, so that you can anticipate the needs of the position and the company and how you can benefit them in the position. Identify the information you feel they need to receive. If they do not ask you the necessary questions to draw that information out, you will need to add the information before the close of the interview.
2. Before you enter the room, get relaxed. Breathe deeply, do a full body yawn, smile and get ready to enjoy the experience. If your throat tends to get dry when you are nervous, bring in a glass of water to sip.
3. Accept your responsibility to relax the interviewer. Smile, shake hands, and show that you are comfortable and interested. You will be an oasis of calm in a sea of the other candidates’ terror. The interviewer will be able to relax and enjoy you.
4. Anticipate the interviewer’s expectations and address them if you do not feel that you initially appear to meet them. For example, you are interviewing for a supervisory position, but you have a quiet voice and laid back manner. Before you answer the first question posed to you, indicate that you are aware of how important it is for a supervisor to be firm and assure the interviewer that you are fully capable of making your expectations known and getting them met.
5. When a question is asked, repeat it out loud. That will give you time to think about it as you form an answer. It will also help you avoid any misunderstanding if you did not hear the question correctly. The interviewer can correct you before you proceed to answer the wrong question.
6. If you were given an opportunity to review the questions and jot down notes prior to the interview, make large outline notes on the paper and place it in your lap- not on the table in front of you. You want to avoid the tendency to read your answer rather than speak directly to the interviewer.
7. Answer each question from the standpoint of how you can help the company, not what the company can do for you. Someone in the company chose those questions because they have a problem to solve. Make sure that your answer shows them that you understand the problem and have the necessary knowledge and skill to help find a good solution.
8. Make sure that you answer all questions completely. Never assume that the interviewers will draw forward the answer from one question to a related question. They need to hear the answer both times. Also, especially if you know the members of the panel, do not assume that they will give you credit for knowledge or experience that they know you have but you do not specifically mention during the interview.
9. If you forget a point that you planned to make, don’t worry about it. Apologize for the cliffhanger. You will remember the point later and be able to bring it up it either before you answer another question or at the end of the interview, when you are asked if you have anything to add.
10. Try to maintain eye contact with the interviewer. If there is an interview panel and eye contact with all of the members is uncomfortable for you, then address the questioner. If you cannot get eye contact with that individual, then look at whomever is looking at you.
11. Do not make any assumptions about the body language of the interviewers. For example, just because someone is nodding his or her head while you answer a question, it does not mean agreement with your answer. Some people nod simply to indicate that they are listening to you.
12. Never negatively label yourself or talk yourself down. Keep in mind that the interviewers’ primary goal is to screen you out if there are any red flags. Do not hand them a reason to discount you as a viable candidate for the position.
13. Be prepared to explain why you want the job- in terms of the benefits you can bring to the position and the company. Make sure you can show how your training and/or experience prepare you to address specific current issues and concerns.
14. Always have something to add when you are given the opportunity at the end of the interview. If they have asked enough questions to obtain all of the information you feel necessary, then simply highlight and briefly summarize this information. If they have not drawn out sufficient information from you, then provide it. If you say nothing, you give the impression that you do not really care about the job, and that will cue the interviewers not to take you seriously, either.
15. If you do not get this position, contact the interviewers and cordially ask them if they would be willing to give you feedback that would help you be more successful in future interviews.
16. Remember that supervisors talk to each other. If you do well in an interview but are not selected, you may still be called to interview for another position through the use of related registers.
If you follow all of these tips, you should make an excellent impression on the interviewer.
To help those of us who facing a job interview, I have posted a white paper on Typical Interview Questions (and how to answer them when they are intended to screen you out) my website at http://www.laurelandassociates.com.
In next week’s Tip, we will look at the tricks to answering typical interview questions, particularly those that are intended to screen you out.
May your learning be sweet.