Great interviews arise
from careful groundwork. You can ace your next interview if you:
- Enter into a state of relaxed
concentration. This is the state from which great basketball players or Olympic
skaters operate. You'll need to quiet the negative self chatter in your head
through meditation or visualization prior to sitting down in the meeting.
You'll focus on the present moment and will be less apt to experience lapses
in concentration, nervousness, self-doubt and self-condemnation.
- Act spontaneous, but be
well prepared. Be your authentic self, professional yet real. Engage in true
conversation with your interviewer, resting on the preparation you did prior
to coming to the meeting. Conduct several trial runs with another person simulating
the interview before it actually occurs. It's the same as anticipating the
questions you'll be asked on a final exam.
- Set goals for the interview.
It is your job to leave the meeting feeling secure that the interviewer knows
as much as he or she possibly can about your skills, abilities, experience
and achievements. If you sense there are misconceptions, clear them up before
leaving. If the interviewer doesn't get around to asking you important questions,
pose them yourself (diplomatically) and answer them. Don't leave the meeting
without getting your own questions answered so that you have a clear idea
of what you would be getting yourself into. If possible, try to get further
interviews, especially with other key players.
- Know the question behind
the question. Ultimately, every question boils down to, "Why should we hire
you?" Be sure you answer that completely. If there is a question about your
meeting deadlines, consider whether the interviewer is probing delicately
about your personal life, careful not to ask you whether your family responsibilities
will interfere with your work. Find a way to address fears if you sense they
- Follow up and propose useful
ideas that demonstrate your added value to the team.
- Consider the interviewer's
agenda. Much is on the shoulders of the interviewer. He or she has the responsibility
of hiring the right candidate. Your ability to do the job will need to be
justified. "Are there additional pluses here?" "Will this person fit the culture
of this organization?" These as well as other questions will be heavily on
the interviewer's mind. Find ways to demonstrate your qualities above and
beyond just doing the job.
- Expect to answer the question,
"Tell me about yourself." This is a pet question of prepared and even unprepared
interviewers. Everything you include should answer the question, "Why should
we hire you?" Carefully prepare your answer to include examples of achievements
from your work life that closely match the elements of the job before you.
Obviously, you'll want to know as much about the job description as you can
before you respond to the question.
- Watch those nonverbal clues.
Experts estimate that words express only 30% to 35% of what people actually
communicate; facial expressions and body movements and actions convey the
rest. Make and keep eye contact. Walk and sit with a confident air. Lean toward
an interviewer to show interest and enthusiasm. Speak with a well-modulated
voice that supports appropriate excitement for the opportunity before you.
- Be smart about money questions.
Don't fall into the trap of telling the interviewer your financial expectations.
You may be asking for too little or too much money and in each case ruin your
chances of being offered the job. Instead, ask what salary range the job falls
in. Attempt to postpone a money discussion until you have a better understanding
of the scope of responsibilities of the job.
- Don't hang out your dirty
laundry. Be careful not to bare your soul and tell tales that are inappropriate
or beyond the scope of the interview. State your previous experience in the
most positive terms. Even if you disagreed with a former employer, express
your enthusiasm for earlier situations as much as you can. Whenever you speak
negatively about another person or situation in which you were directly involved,
you run the risk (early in the relationship) of appearing like a troubled
person who may have difficulty working with others.