By Alex Freund, Career Coach and Interview Expert
Congratulations! You and just a few others have been selected from among many, many applicants to be called in for the second part of a selection process known as the job interview. The process is tortuous because all of those selected are outstanding applicants who, potentially, could do the job well. So, what should you do to outshine your competition in this contest? Here are 10 tips to follow.
1) Make the Best Impression
Based on the theories of Albert Mehrabian, UCLA professor emeritus of psychology, the interviewer judges a candidate 55% on visual appearance, 38% on voice, and 7% on words. The hiring decision is made on the impression the candidate leaves behind, and it’s based primarily on the interviewer’s gut feeling. Unfortunately, such decision making is certainly not science.
2) Present Facts—Not Your Opinion
The interviewer knows the candidate is there to sell himself. But the interviewer is not ready to buy everything the candidate wants to sell, except when the candidate recites facts, gives evidence about career background and ability to do the job, and uses adjectives or other kinds of self-descriptions if they’re in sentences that begin in the third person—that is, when the otherwise self-descriptions were actually given by others.
3) Practice Mock Interviewing
Interviewing is like dancing: it can’t be learned from a book—only by practice. The more one practices, the better one becomes. Additionally, practicing builds confidence, a trait picked up instantly by the interviewer.
4) Understand the Interviewer
Interviews are counter-intuitive. In other words, they’re not about the candidate; they’re about the candidate’s skills and experience in terms of their ability to solve the interviewer’s problems. The interviewer is listening, but his hearing is selective: that is, when the candidate talks about himself, the interviewer barely hears it; when the candidate talks about how he can solve the company’s problems, the interviewer becomes more interested and attentive and is thinking, “Louder, louder!”
5) Be Ready to Recite Success Stories
To be most credible in a job interview situation, the candidate has to provide facts via success stories from past jobs. Say often the words for example, and then describe briefly a situation and the actions you took, ending with a description of the results and the benefits to your team or employer. Every time you provide an interview answer, ask yourself “so what?” This will force you to recall and recount pertinent and meaningful examples.
6) Dress to Impress
The first impression is crucial. The first judgment an interviewer makes is based on your looks and what you’re wearing. Appropriate attire for a job interview is a must. Men should wear an outfit that is professional, stylish, and tasteful. Women should look professional, fashionable, and polished. Regardless of the type of job applied for, though, clothing must look neat and tidy.
7) Avoid Interview Mistakes
First, don’t be late, because it not only suggests poor time management skills but also shows lack of respect for the interviewer. Second, don’t get caught being unfamiliar with the company; that shows lack of interest. Next, be fluid in reciting your background, including your success stories. And don’t talk too much: there’s not much worse you can do than to go on and on and on. Keep your answers to the point and focused; don’t ramble.
8) Thank the Interviewer
Sending a timely thank you note to those who interviewed you is part of proper business etiquette. Even more, it’s your opportunity to reiterate and reinforce your interest in the position and to address any issues and concerns that came up during the interview.
9) Participate and Don’t Feel Like a Victim
Certainly, it’s important to listen to the interviewer, to pay attention, and to compose an appropriate answer to each question. But also be ready to engage the interviewer in turn, because the interview should be a dialogue that begins to build a relationship rather than consisting only of your responses to questions. So, be prepared to ask the interviewer your own questions that you’ve prepared in advance.
10) Benefit from Your Contacts
Finding someone inside the company can be very helpful to reveal relevant information and idiosyncrasies. Sleuthing inside the company through, say, LinkedIn connections or by other means could make the difference—and clue you in to vital information about company culture. Since a big part of the interview’s objective is to find fit between the candidate and the company’s culture such information could prove to be critical.
by Alex Freund