John is ready for a job change, deciding that it’s getting to be time to move to a new company; he’s bored in his current responsibilities. But he’s also eyeballing a position in another dept; change would be a nice challenge to renew his working interest. So it’s decided: try for the existing position and if that doesn’t pan out, dust off the resume and cast his rod into other waters. In either case, it’s interview time.
Luke in HR will be conducting the job interviews. He’s interviewed dozens of people over the last few years, so he’s not new at this, but still he wonders how you can really know how well a person will perform, after meeting them for just an hour. Lots is riding on getting the right person into the job since turnover is a costly expense.
Mary, the dept leader, wants in on the interviews too, with a vested interest in a new hire. Mary doesn’t know John at all, since their paths have not crossed working in different depts.
John thinks, “No big deal, I have the inside track since I know all about the company already. I’ll just apply, ask some of the guys to put in a good word for me with Mary, and easily ace the interview with my charm.”
Interviewing is really a test of all your communication skills. Much rides on how well you can communicate, on being prepared, and on body language. What if you choke during the interview and don’t project your best? And there’s the worrisome competition, who certainly have stronger qualifications. Maybe it’s a long shot and your experience is shallow or nonexistent in this endeavor… is it worth it to throw your hat into the ring just to hear no? Actually, you can probably think of dozens of reasons why it shouldn’t be you who wins in this big communication gambit.
But that’s just the fear talking, of being out of your comfort zone and putting yourself on the line. Face it, no one likes being rejected, or even the hint of rejection. So let’s cover the 5 big areas that are most critical, whether you are interviewing or being interviewed for any opportunity, to overcome the fear.
DRESS – much is communicated in the attire the person brings to the interview, giving information about their socio-economic background, their education, their morals, their intelligence, their trustworthiness. Most hiring decisions, aye or nay, are made immediately after that first impression, then simply re-enforced over the course of the formal interview. Tip: know the industry and dress one level higher than the position you are interviewing for, so you appear promotable.
Color tip: wondering about color choice? The safest all around color to wear is blue.
BODY LANGUAGE – the way the interviewee conducts themselves is more important than the actual words coming out of their mouth. Was her handshake confident? Does he appear attentive, lean in for earnest understanding, express strong focused thoughts, demonstrate emphatic purpose? Does she display good energy, passion, enthusiasm? Is he confident without being cocky? (confidence is huge to winning in communication) Is she genuinely nice, a team player who will get along well with others? (Being charming is an asset to cultivate.)
Confidence tip: Strike the ‘power’ pose or the ‘victory’ pose (in the restroom is a good idea) before going into the interview, holding for 2 minutes for the mind/body transference to take hold. This helps to quell jittery nerves.
LANGUAGE – Articulate clearly, ask intelligent questions that required prior homework, be persuasive as to why you are the best candidate, be honest and truthful. Don’t um and ah or hedge answers. Say you don’t know when you don’t.
RAPPORT BUILDING – Successful communication comes down to one basic trait: likability. Be likable, maintain good eye contact (we look longer at things we like), inject positive energy into your voice (we like to be around positive, energetic people).
SOLID PREPARATION – Even if you’re good at winging it, you’re always better when you’ve done your homework in advance. Homework on the company’s long term goals and objectives; homework on the position’s responsibilities fitting into that future; homework on answers to the standard questions: ‘strength’, ‘weakness’ (and steps taken to correct), ‘proud accomplishment’, ‘prior conflict’ (and how dealt with).
Tip: Include detailed example stories, each related to a specific point, to show yourself in action.
OOPS! – Lots can go wrong, but much of it is avoidable. Don’t ever arrive late, poorly groomed, or chewing gum. Politely decline to eat or drink anything offered – to avoid food in teeth and possible spills. Trip entering? – make a funny quip to avoid awkwardness.
YUPS – Carry a leather folio to take notes and lead the questioning (showing initiative and your prior preparation). Take those notes with a high quality non-disposable pen (remember that impression count). At table seating, sit to the right of the person, if given a choice. And good posture is important.
Tip: Don’t forget the handwritten thank you note after the interview, which is so much nicer than a dashed off email.
So there you have the Interviewing Mastery Strokes – master these and you will be a master interviewer. Good luck getting that dream job or next big promotion 🙂