Five Little Tips for Interviewing (Part 1)

 

Getting the resume together is only part of the job hunt story.  While that CV will get your foot in the door, what happens after you get the rest of your body into the lobby?  Being a polished interviewee doesn't make up for not having the right skill set for the job.  But being able to shine in the face-to-face portion of the talent contest will push you a step closer to the goal of being gainfully employed in a position that you enjoy.  These tips are common sense ideas to help you approach the interview experience with a sense of adventure instead of a sense of dread.

First:  Be Confident…
They already think you can do the job.  That's why they contacted you and set up an interview.  The face-to-face meeting is a way of discovering who you are, how well you will fit into the work environment and if they actually like you.  Interestingly in a sixty-minute interview, they'll decide within the first ten minutes whether you'll mesh with their supervisory skills and the office politics.  Probably within thirty minutes they'll have a sense of your ability to handle the job.  And the remainder of the interview will be reassuring themselves of their first and second impressions, clarifying their personal thoughts about you ("Do I want this person sitting beside me for the next five years?") and then wrapping up so they can get on with their day.

So don't fret so much about whether you can handle the technical aspects of the job (unless you lied on your resume and know you don't have the capabilities).  Remember that you're probably at least one of the top ten candidates — so congratulations!  Now focus on being prepared for the actual meeting.

Second:  Practice!  Practice!  Practice…
It seems obvious, but so many people don't do it.  Interviewing is a skill — just like public speaking.  So role play with a friend.  Practice in front of a mirror.  Pretend it's the worst interview in the world and also pretend it's the best.  The interview is where you move into salesperson mode and impress your potential employer not only with your knowledge, but with your poise and ease of being, as well.  And the best way to do that is to practice developing your interview skills.

To this end, consider accepting as many interviews as you are offered — even for the jobs you have absolutely no interest in accepting.  You can consider these opportunities to be simple practice sessions.  If you can carry a forty to ninety-minute interview for a job you have no interest in, then you'll be in good form for an interview that you really want.  In the long-range view of the job hunting process: it's all practice for the jobs that you do want.

So while some people are natural performers and excel at interviewing, other people get overlooked because their more introverted natures hide their natural abilities.  Consequently there are many people who do extremely well in the interview process and fail miserably at the job.  But sadly, the ones who fail miserably at the interview seldom get the chance to succeed at the job.

Most prospective coworkers would prefer not to have an ax murderer in the cubicle beside them.  It's through the interview they are hoping to weed out the machete carrying applicants.  So have a friend give you some pointers on how you come across.  Are you a hyper-negative critic?  Do you seem aloof?  Or too unnervingly familiar?  Confident or unconfident?  Do you mumble?  Do you talk too fast?  Do you lose your train of thought when you get nervous?  Or ramble on about nothing?  Do you suddenly interrupt people or change the flow of conversation because an idea pops into your head?  This is the feedback you want to know, because your goal is to come across as confident, at ease, enthusiastic and engaged.  We tend to perceive happy, gregarious people as pulled together and competent.  Also, their enthusiasm is contagious and they're easily remembered in a crowd, which is important if you are one of ten people vying for a job.

And simply saying "I'm good at interviews, so I can skip the practicing." is not an option!  Everyone can use the practice.  The more you practice, the less daunting the process becomes.  It's like wearing a suit.  If you wear a suit every day, you end up becoming extremely comfortable in one.  It becomes a second skin and you can easily change a flat tire without feeling constrained.  But if you only wear a suit once in a blue moon, then simply sitting in a meeting becomes almost unbearable because you feel like you've been shrink-wrapped in a strange costume.  This causes your focus to be splintered in different directions when you want it completely centered on the task at hand — impressing people in your interview.

Next…Be Prepared!