Job interviews can be nerve-wracking. I know because I worked as an Executive Coach for a number of years and it was always the biggest concern of my candidates. To put them at ease, we would rehearse with interview questions, but I always made sure they were prepared for something else. They needed to be ready for an interviewer who simply didn’t know what they were supposed to do in a job interview.
It’s unfortunate, but many people have neither the training nor the inclination to understand how to conduct an effective job interview. As a result, their assessment of a candidate is based on general impressions, vague assumptions and the circumstances of their mood. That’s not only unfair but unprofessional. It’s also quite common.
The critical success factor for anyone interviewing for a position is to know how to take control of the interview. You have to make sure you communicate your profile clearly, your key strengths and leave the interviewer with a clear picture and memory of who you are and why you’re right for the job. It’s rare that you will interview with one person who can hire you. Usually you’re meeting with a number of people who will be later asked for their impressions of each candidate. Don’t’ let a bad interviewer cost you the job. Here’s what to do:
1. Study the job description and align your strengths
In any job description there will be a number of requirements and qualifications. Pick the top two requirements and top two qualifications that you represent your greatest strengths and make sure you communicate them. Communicate them clearly and concisely in a way the interviewer will remember.
2. Anticipate the interviewer’s questions and rehearse your answers out loud.
Even the worst interviewer is going to ask you some questions. The most common is, “So, tell me about yourself.” Have this answer ready and rehearsed. Keep it down to 3 or 4 sentences. Make sure it’s focused on your experience and use this to highlight your first qualification or requirement for the job.
3. Give answers that lead to your value and strengths.
Your answer to every question, no matter how off the cuff or off the subject it may be, should lead back to a value or strength you can bring to the company or position. It could also emphasize your character. Try to cover the top two qualifications and requirements across each answer.
4. Make these 5 key statements during the interview and repeat them at the end.
- Why you want the job.
- Why you’re qualified for the position.
- Why you admire the company.
- What you can contribute.
- What you find exciting about the department you’ll be working in.
5. Ask insightful questions.
Many hiring managers have told me they’re more impressed by good questions than good answers in an interview. “Most people have good, standard answers to most of my questions.” One HR professional told me once. “It’s when they ask a question that really makes me stop and think -wow, here’s someone who did their homework- that’s something I remember.” The best way to get to those insightful questions is to research the company, and think like you already have the job. If it’s your first day on the job and you have to get up to speed quickly, the questions that occur to you might make a strong impression in your interview.
6. Have a strong finish
Remember! It’s all about what they “remember.” Interviewers are undoubtedly talking to other candidates. You want to make sure they remember you. Finish strong with a recap of your 5 key points, do all the right things related to smiling, eye-contact and sincere handshake, and give them one other thing: a leave behind. It’s a recap of what you said and want them to remember on a half sheet of paper stapled to the top of your resume. They just might take it with them when their boss collects everyone for the hiring discussion and decision. if you play this right, they’ll decide on you!