A job interview can be an adventure. You have the opportunity to learn about new companies, new positions, and network with new people. The first step is to equalize the power. And that involves an attitude adjustment. The power should be 50-50. The interviewer is sizing you up AND you’re sizing up the company. Don’t give all the power to the interviewer. You decide if the company meets your criteria. Once you’ve balanced the power, here are some tips for presenting a positive image:
Prepare and rehearse
Anticipate difficult questions and prepare a strategy for answering them. Practice your answers out loud until you feel confident.
Know your message
What are your top three strengths, abilities and accomplishments? Know them cold and be able to back them up with examples.
Give a firm handshake
This is your first impression. A weak handshake creates a negative image, as does a bone crushing grip. A firm handshake combined with direct eye contact spells confidence. The handshake should not differ for men and women. Use the same confident and firm grasp.
Make some small talk to break the ice. Then observe the interviewer and pace his or her energy. Does the interviewer like to get down to business? Then sit up and get to the point. Is he or she a storyteller? Then slow down and give more examples and vignettes. We like people who are most like us. A University or Michigan study determined that when hiring managers the formula was 60% chemistry and 40% skills.
Think and Pause
An interview is not a free association test. Think before you answer. Pause and wait for a response. Don’t rattle on at breakneck speed. Speed talking is a sign of nervousness.
Be enthusiastic and upbeat
Nothing sells like enthusiasm. Managers value attitude over skills. Eagerness and a positive attitude can compensate for a lack of experience.
Job candidates who don’t ask questions are perceived as disinterested. Preplan some questions. In the event that the interviewer is extremely thorough, ask an industry question. Don’t lead with salary and benefit questions.
This skill more than any other is the key to your success. Listen with your eyes. What’s the body language telling you? Listen with your ears. What do you hear in the tone and words? Listen with your heart. What do you hear between the lines? What is not being said? Clarify and paraphrase what the interviewer said before answering the question. (To improve your listening ask about the Listening Styles Profile and the Listen and Sell audio tape. MAILTO:firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ask for the next step
Don’t leave without knowing what’s next. This is especially critical in sales jobs. The interviewer wants to see if you can ask for the order. If appropriate ask for the job. Express your interest and say, “Where do we go from here?” ” What is the next step?” “When should I call you?”
Say thank you
Write a thank you note and mention something specific to each interviewer. Stay in touch. Follow-up may be the reason you finally land the job.