7 Ways to Impress Your Interviewers
Via U.S.News : How to show you’re the best candidate for the job.
The satirical website, The Onion, recently poked fun at a stereotypical job seeker who blew away his interviewers with his knowledge of the company’s “About Us” page. The fictitious human resources manager confessed to being “pretty floored” by the candidate’s “ability to name the exact year the firm was founded and where its original headquarters were located.” The candidate even recited back the company’s own boilerplate self-description as “a pioneer in the digital marketing industry” and knew that the company helps its clients to “maximize opportunities in a changing media landscape.” Blah, blah, blah.
In reality, unfortunate stories abound about people who failed to get a position, because they clearly hadn’t bothered to do even the minimal research of looking at perspective employers’ websites. But simply parroting back the information you find won’t be enough to impress most interviewers. Here are seven things that will:
1. Be purposeful. Everything you say should be calculated to demonstrate (rather than claim) your skill and subject matter expertise, work style, prior accomplishments and overall value. When you can relate that to your knowledge of an employer’s situation and challenges, so much the better! Take a moment to think about the impression your words will make and what conclusions about you will be drawn from them.
2. Speak English, not jargon. Talk about yourself without resorting to overused stock phrases and banalities. If you say, “I’m a results-oriented team player, highly motivated for success,” even if this description is true, you do nothing to distinguish yourself from everyone else who is using job-hunting jargon. Say what you mean by all this and show how it is true.
3. Don’t just regurgitate words. Process them! Of course, like The Onion’s job seeker, you should be familiar with a company’s “About us” page, but that is only the beginning of your research. Your job is to integrate the research that you do with the knowledge that you have about the role you seek and value you offer. Use language that demonstrates your understanding of the things the company says about itself rather than parroting the exact words back.
4. Tell relevant stories. Be prepared for questions that will probe for an understanding of your work style, personality and ethics. Your answers will be analyzed carefully to predict how you will act in the employer’s environment. Prepare short vignettes that demonstrate how you have handled stressful situations, intellectual challenges and interpersonal conflict. Think about how others will see the role that you’ve played, leadership you’ve contributed or value you’ve added to your group. What kind of person do your stories portray?
5. Be enthusiastic, and smile. Chances are, you don’t feel your best when you are around Debbie Downers, people who don’t seem comfortable in their own skin or people who are trying too hard to sell you something. Your interviewers probably feel the same way.
If you show nervousness or a lack of self-confidence, or if you’re overly deferential, you do yourself no favors. While maintaining proper boundaries, demonstrate a sense of personal ease, optimism and engagement. Showing that you are the kind of person who relishes dealing with the role and responsibilities about which you’re speaking and talking with a smile on your face can go along way toward convincing people you are a good fit.
6. Ask thoughtful questions. The questions you ask say a great deal about you. They are a way for you to demonstrate that you’ve thought about the role you seek to fill. Instead of asking, “Will I have to do X?” instead ask, “Will I have the opportunity to do X?” or “Do you do X this way or that way?”
7. Stifle yourself. Far too often, job hunters kill their own candidacies by failing to self-censor. No matter how much you want to vent against your old boss, complain about how so-and-so treated you or how life is unfair, this is not the time or place.
No matter how curious you are about the selection process, how much the job will pay or how much vacation time you will have, this is not the time to ask. Your interviewer’s job is to create a respectful, friendly environment in which you will feel comfortable “opening up.” Don’t confuse this with friendship. You aren’t friends, and you aren’t even on the same team – yet!
Remember: Absolutely nothing you say in an interview is confidential, and everything you say shows more about you than your words alone.
Arnie Fertig, MPA, is passionate about helping his Jobhuntercoach clients advance their careers by transforming frantic “I’ll apply to anything” searches into focused hunts for “great fit” opportunities. He brings to each client the extensive knowledge he gained when working in HR staffing and managing his boutique recruiting firm.
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