Awesome! Your highly crafted resume has finally landed you a precious job interview. Now what? Preparation is essential to minimizing anxiety and maximizing your potential in a personal interview. Having sat on both side of the interview table, here are 10 tips that can be of value to to you in improving your job interviewing skills.
1. Check background of company and person you are meeting – It was a shocking to ask a basic question of the interviewee, “What is about our firm that interests you the most?” The sound of crickets is not the answer nor is, “a…ahh…job?” Conduct some Google searches on the business. If they have a Wikipedia page, read over the content, so you are familiar with the background of the company. Do a quick search on the person you are meeting. You might find a common point of interest. I am not suggesting that you go stalker. Some basic background that may help to establish rapport and ease your tension. Check their profile on LinkedIn. They may be an alumni of the same school or from the same hometown. The internet can provide insight into the most common human resource questions.
2. Dry run – Drive to the location of the interview. This will allow you the opportunity to gauge the drive time, where to park, and visualize the building. Google maps will not disclose current road construction or detours. Add thirty minutes to the commute to allow for traffic, road closures, sinkholes and other disasters. One applicant, called me to ask to reschedule his interview. He failed to realize that he would need to pay for parking. In his quest to find an ATM, he had become lost and then caught in a traffic jam. How can you not find an ATM in a downtown major city? Was it all fiction?
3. Sleep/Alarm/ Breakfast/ Arrival – Listen to your mother’s advice. Go to bed early, so you can get eight hours sleep. Set three alarms. At least one should be powered by a battery. I use a clock radio, a battery powered and my cell phone. Neurotic? Perhaps. Do not depend on the hotel wakeup call. For once, give yourself plenty of time to prepare in the morning and visualize success. Have a good breakfast and do not over caffeinate.
4. Attire – Pick out your wardrobe the night before. Remember, you are not going to a club. Dress conservatively and never under dress. When you conduct your reconnaissance, gauge what other employees are wearing. It is always better to dress to impress. I remember a fellow who was wearing a velvet sport coat and three-day growth of beard. Really? Can’t afford new clothes? Go to eBay or consignment shops.
5. Eyes – Make eye contact with the receptionist and your point of contact. Focus in the triangle of the face. This is the region from the eyes to the mouth. It demonstrates your interest in the person. Avoid the stalker stare. Maintain eye contact around seventy percent of the time.
6. Smile – a smile is usually reciprocated. It demonstrates that you are a nice person and you like the person you are facing. Smiles releases feel good endorphins in the body. The pleasure zones of the brain will fire when you smile. Smiles are good for you and the interviewer. Have fun!
7. Handshake – Practice your handshake with a friend. Match their pressure. Squeeze and release with a two second grip. If your hands are cold, stop in the restroom and run warm water over your hands. If your hands are clammy, have a dew rag in your purse or pocket. Mositurizers in moderation can be helpful.
8. Active listening – Most employment interviews are focused on the applicant. That does not mean that you cannot allow the interviewer to speak and listen attentively. Make eye contact, smile and nod. Focus your toes, and torso in the direction of the interviewer.
9. Body language – Avoid intrusive pacifying gestures and closed body language. I had one person who was picking his fingernails during an interview. I watched one girl play with her hair. These are distracting and diminish your standing. There are many books on positive body language. Some are good. Yes, I have written a book that you might find helpful. Anything written by Joe Navarro is well researched and well written.
10. Follow-up – after you leave, send an email to your interviewer. Short and sweet. Avoid being a suck-up. Thank them for their time, the opportunity, and have a nice day. If they disclosed an upcoming event or assignment, wish them enjoyment or good luck. This helps to separate you from the herd, demonstrates you were listening to them, and cements your job interview in their memory. A genuine thank you is often an underused trait. This is a missed opportunity for many sales professionals as well.
Do not take rejection personally and become discouraged. You can only present the best face that you can. Often, there are other forces at work. View the interview as an opportunity to sharpen your skills and have belief in abilities.
For more tips on interviewing skills and developing rapport, take a look at FACE 2 FACE : Observation, Interviewing and Rapport Building Skills: an Ex-Secret Service Agent’s Guide http://www.amazon.com/Face-2-ebook/dp/B009991BII/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354630000&sr=1-6