The job market is tough and getting tougher. It would help if you had a competitive edge to break into an exciting new career. The most important person in the process is the one sitting across from you in a personal interview. Convince them, and your success is assured. Here are some tips to help you win them over.
1. Be one hundred percent professional in all your interactions one hundred percent of the time.
Whatever method of communication, every interaction with a prospective employer is an opportunity to influence them to hire you. It will get back to the interviewer whether you were kind, indifferent, or unkind. That sounds straightforward, but a hiring campaign can be long and frustrating. After a long stretch with no results, it is easy to get discouraged. If you are not careful, that discouragement can leak out in words or a frustrated tone. No matter how long the process is, maintain your professionalism. Do not succumb to negative impulses. Instead, use every contact with a prospective employer as another opportunity to demonstrate professionalism, thus building the case for why they should hire you.
2. Be authentic about the things that matter.
Interviewers are not naive. They can sense when you are insincere or trying too hard to please them with your answers. That behavior erodes trust and can be fatal to your hiring prospects. So the thinking goes: if you are willing to stretch the truth in an interview, you are likely to do the same once you are on the job. No one wants to work with insincere people. It is too big a risk. Companies prefer hiring authentic people with some gaps in their qualifications to top-flight candidates whose words cannot be trusted. They can fill the gaps in someone’s knowledge but not in their character.
3. Be original, and in so doing, be memorable.
You have charisma; use it! There is nobody like you; this is your chance to show it. You do not have to do anything flashy, but give your interviewer a unique reason to distinguish you from everyone else. That could be a funny story, a poignant moment, a passionate appeal, or other things. The point is you want to differentiate yourself from the other candidates positively. As you prepare, think about the impression you want to leave after the interview.
4. Be confident in the (flawed) process.
Interviewing is an imperfect science, which means it is ultimately not one-hundred-percent fair. People are too complex to be evaluated thoroughly in an interview, and hiring decisions are subjective. It is an unfortunate fact of life, and occasionally you will take a turn on the wrong end of the fairness spectrum. However, rather than railing against the unjust universe, revel in that all candidates are subject to the same unfair process, which ultimately makes it fair. Everyone has to go through it, not just you, so embrace and use the process as a learning experience.
5. Be prepared with what you want to say, and do not leave without saying it.
Too often, interview preparation consists solely of going over practice questions and then rehearsing responses. All the focus is on how to answer potential questions, and virtually no time to think about what you want to say outside the context of those specific responses. And almost no one asks for the job outright. So do not just show up with some questions for your interviewer; show up with a statement! For example, consider two nearly identical candidates: intelligent and articulate and have solid qualifications. One has a beautiful, brilliant answer to every question. The other one does, too, only they used the final minute of her interview to deliver a crisp, compelling statement on why they should get an offer. You are right if you think that gives them an advantage in the selection process. Now take that same advantage for yourself.
6. Be grateful and let that gratitude shine through.
Being invited to a job interview is a big deal. Act like it! People are taking time out of their busy schedules to talk to you about potentially changing the trajectory of your life. Those are some pretty high stakes. Show an appropriate amount of appreciation for their efforts and the opportunity before you. You worked hard to make it to that interview. Whether you realize it or not, the people at the company you are interviewing with have worked just as hard to get you there:
- They had to convince someone to fund the position.
- They had to write the job description, advertise it, and sort through the flood of resumes and cover letters.
- They had to schedule and conduct the interviews and collect and analyze the feedback.
Then they have to make a hiring decision that will bind the company with long-term legal and financial consequences. It is serious stuff. So please take a moment to tell the people you are interviewing that you appreciate all their hard work.
An interview is more than being punctual, dressing right, and politely answering questions. When you are sitting before that interviewer, it is not just the content of your answers that matters. It is also vital how you deliver it. You need to stand out from the competition if you want them to call you back. So use the tips above to impress your interviewer; your phone will be ringing in no time!
Before helming Perpetual Talent Solutions as President, Jim Hickey held several senior leadership roles in both sales and operations for two of the world’s largest Commercial Staffing organizations. Jim is a dedicated professional who has been formally recognized as a Staffing Industry Subject Matter Expert.