Preparing before and following up after an interview are important steps in securing a job, however, it is important to also focus on exactly how we perform during the interview. Knowing what to say and when to say it is integral to ensuring that you are liked and remembered. There are several points to remember in order to leave a lasting impression during your interview.
1. First Impression Counts
When you arrive at your interview destination, ensure that you are courteous to everyone that you come into contact with. The person you bump into in the hall may be the person who will interview you!
When you greet your interviewer, smile and look directly into their eyes. Maintain eye contact for a couple seconds to show that you are confident. Your handshake should be firm and tight without squeezing. Show your enthusiasm and appreciation for them taking the time to interview you.
2. Use Your Life Stories to Your Benefit
Before your interview, you should think about your life experiences in depth. Create a brief but compelling story that you can introduce into the conversation at the right moment. Practice ways to adapt your story to different types of questions and situations. Ensure that your story is compelling, and that it can positively contribute to the discussion and give your interviewers a better idea of who you are.
3. Use your “Weaknesses” to your Benefit
Your interviewer will eventually pose a question to determine any possible weaknesses. Anticipate this line of questioning and be honest. If you promote yourself as having no weaknesses you may come across as being cocky or over confident. Think about your weaknesses beforehand and then think about ways in which you usually deal with these situations. This way when the question is posed you can discuss your “weakness” but also your ability to deal with and overcome your weaknesses. This gives your interviewer insight into your character and problem-solving skills.
4. Harness your People Skills
Your interviewers are not robots. Even though you may be asked set questions, it is important that you show your ability to connect on an emotional and social level with people. Observe your surroundings, and make a note of anything you may have in common with your interviewer (e.g.- A book you may have both read may be on a shelf in the interview room). Listen to what the interviewer says while asking questions (he/she may mention something about their personal lives – e.g. where they went to school etc.) – find these commonalities and use them to your benefits as points of conversation.
5. Be Positive
Try to remain positive throughout the interview. Some questions may prompt you to reflect on negative experiences or situations. It is important that you think about these beforehand and find the positives in each situation. Do not lie about these situations. If they must be discussed ensure that the negative information does not revolve around specific individuals. Ensure that you do not seem to be destroying another person’s character. Rather, discuss what was negative about the situation and how you were able to deal with it. Use positive language when speaking about the job.
Adapt your phrases in a way that can sell you to your interviewers (e.g. “When I start the job I will…). This way your interviewers can see that you already have ideas about your position and that you are ready to fit in with the organization.
6. Listen to What is Being Asked
Often times you may be excited to give as much information as possible in your responses. It is important to pay attention to the question being asked so that your response is clear and to the point. Interviewers will ask you many questions; therefore you will get a chance to include important information throughout the interview. Ensure that your examples are not vague and that they suit the question being asked. Some questions are not as direct as they may seem. You need to read between the lines to decipher what your interviewer is truly asking. Offer information that answers both the direct and indirect question.
7. Know when a Question is Inappropriate
Certain questions are deemed “illegal” in the interviewing world where a candidate is not required to respond. You should know the type of questions that are not appropriate and how to respond. Questions that refer to your age, date of birth, religion, sexual orientation, heritage, race etc are considered inappropriate. If an inappropriate question is posed you can politely respond by saying “ These questions do not affect my ability to perform the job” or a similar response. Always remain polite, and courteous but firm in your response.
8. Close the Interview
After both you and your interviewer have asked all questions, ensure that you professionally close the interview. Remind them as to why you are the right fit for the job. Give a snapshot of your capabilities and strongest attributes and express your interest in the job once more.
We know interviews can be tough to handle; keep these points in mind during your interview and it should go much smoother! The following links gives more information on Acing Your Interview.