The job interview. Exhilarating and terrifying all at once. There are, however, several steps you can take to mitigate the latter.
It helps to remember everyone’s been there, including the person across the table or desk asking all the questions.
Take heart for you wouldn’t be invited to interview if you weren’t qualified. So now it’s time to research, prepare and plan your interviewing strategy.
Do your homework
Employers will assess your interest level in the position by how much you know about the business. Study their website, so you’re familiar with the company’s founding, mission, and overall structure. Research online for any recent news or other information to increase your familiarity with their products and/or services. It’s likely one of the first questions you’ll be asked is: “How much do you know about us?”
Practice = confidence
If it’s been a while, or even if it hasn’t, role-playing the interview process is often worth it. Find a friend or family member – anyone who will be honest about your “presence.” Ask them to run a few, typical interview questions by you and give you their impression: Do you sound confident? Are your nonverbal cues corresponding with what you’re saying? How’s that eye contact doing?
Practicing this process is somewhat similar to preparing for a speech, as it will boost your confidence and help you relax, knowing you’re coming across correctly.
What Employers Want from an Interview
They have your resume and cover letter, so when asked to describe your work history, address topics that will sell your work ethic and accomplishments – things you couldn’t work into the application paperwork.
Work ethic. Did you work three jobs while going to college? Start a successful side hustle (recently, not the lemonade stand at age 11)?
Tell your achievement story. The interview is your opportunity to detail accomplishments. For example, explain why you received promotions and positive performance reviews at previous employers. Businesses need to know how exactly you met budget goals, improved productivity or contributed to revenue.
What have you learned lately? Just about every industry is experiencing some form of disruption these days, and organizations are looking for people willing to take on new skillsets after their hired. Explain how you’ve exercised a learning mindset at past positions, particularly if this learning contributed to an important project.
Collaboration experience. Team initiatives are the name of the game for most workplaces today. Employers are seeking people who know how to get along with others, communicate well, welcome diverse perspectives and manage conflict. Study after study finds soft skills such as these are in high demand!
Humility on Display
Granted, the spotlight’s on you, but be careful to not come across too happy with yourself. Confidence is important, but without a healthy dose of humility, it might morph into arrogance. As stated, an ability to collaborate is a much sought-after work skill, and recognizing the roles others have played in your success exhibits the kind of character most employers appreciate.
Leverage Moments to Show Your True Self
Some people dismiss the value of making small talk or filler conversation during gaps in an interview. Perhaps, you’re waiting for another person to join the interview or your interviewer is walking you to the conference room. These are opportunities to let your affability shine. A touch of self-effacing humor is a good move during these lulls. They’re also an excellent time to express interest in the other person, showing off those soft skills.
This stuff truly is a no-brainer, but apparently – stuff happens, as several HR executives have reported. Checking cell phones during an interview? Answering them?!? Yep, we know you know better, but just a reminder: Turn the phone off and keep it out of sight!