A job interview can be a stressful experience. We’ll take some of the stress out of your next interview with seven techniques that make lasting impressions on employers.
You’ve put your heart and soul into your job search, created a killer resume and finally landed an interview for your dream job. But you’re not out of the woods yet. Before you show up your first day, you’ll need to successfully navigate the interview process.
In general, the most qualified job candidates consistently outperform less qualified applicants in interviews. If you aren’t capable of actually doing the job, no interviewing trick in the world will compensate for your lack of qualifications and work skills.
But if your qualifications and work experience are roughly the same as other applicants, there are several interviewing techniques and strategies you can use to tilt the odds in your favor.
- Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. Prepared candidates have a significant advantage over unprepared candidates. Period. Before you go into the interview, learn as much as you can about the employer’s company, their recent initiatives and current industry trends. Decision-makers universally value interviewees who are conversant in their companies and come into the interview with a base level of knowledge.
- Dress the Part. Neat, clean and professional attire is the standard uniform for job interviews. Although many employers expect interviewees to dress in a suit, in certain industries (e.g. creative or technology) it’s possible to turn off an employer by wearing a tie or dressing too formally. Conduct research to determine the employer’s dress code and then dress accordingly for the interview.
- Be Friendly, But Professional. During the interview, you will need to strike a balance between friendly and professional. Cold, detached interviewees come off as disinterested; overly friendly or “chummy” interviewees lack the crisp professionalism many employers prefer. If you’re having trouble achieving a happy medium, conduct practice interviews and solicit feedback from trusted acquaintances.
- Be Direct. Experienced interviewers usually throw in a few very direct questions to see how you handle yourself under pressure. For example, suppose the interviewer asks, “What was your biggest failure on the job?” Although you might be tempted to redirect the question, answer directly – but then talk about what you learned from the experience and how it has helped you become a better employee.
- Use Illustrations & Examples. Interviewers love illustrations and examples. In fact, many will ask you to support your responses with examples from your work history. Rather than waiting for them to ask, ramp up your interviewing prowess by integrating concrete illustrations and quantified outcomes into your replies.
- Ask Questions. Questions serve several purposes in an interview. First, interviewees who ask questions are perceived as being on the ball, especially if the questions are informed and designed to promote conversational depth. But questions also give you the ability to learn more about the employer and decide whether they are a good fit for your personal goals and career objectives.
- Conduct Follow-Up. The interview isn’t over until you have conducted timely follow-up in the form of a thank you note and status updates. Hopefully, the interviewer will give you some idea about how long it will be before you receive a response. If the stated time period elapses with no word from the employer, feel free to contact them for a status update.