As you know, or should know, a successful job interview is only partly about the interview itself. Other behavior that you exhibit as part of your job interview skills is equally important.
Essential skills include your phone skills in setting up the employment interview; your prompt and professional follow-up to the meeting; any personal connections that can bolster your candidacy, and so on.
That said, your interaction with your interviewer(s) remains the single most important factor in landing a job. This article doesn't discuss specific questions you might be asked, but the type of impression you should be aiming for. Just as in presentations, you should spend less time on your content and more time learning how to be comfortable with and impress listeners. (For suggestions on creating a more dynamic presence, download our cheat sheet, "5 Ways to Captivate an Audience.")
Here are seven suggestions for standing out from the crowd as you seek that dream position and answer those interview questions:
- Show Confidence. Your interviewers have brought you in because they genuinely want to know who you are and how you might fit into their organization. They’ll have a hard time figuring any of this out if you sit blandly, responding robot-like to their questions. Have the confidence and courage to be you. That means taking responses into your territory, not merely following the crumbs to where you think they want you to go. Your interviewers know you’re probably nervous. Exhibiting sufficient self-esteem will differentiate you from all the other candidates who come across as just nervous.
- Initiate. When you walk into your interviewer’s office, be the one to initiate the moment of greeting. “So nice to meet you, thank you for having me here today,” for instance, is a simple yet effective opening. Showing enough initiative to reach out first is a very good sign. Act rather than react.
- Notice and Comment. What is there in the room or situation that you can comment on? Do you have a mutual acquaintance or hobby? Is the view from the window stunning? What about that intriguing Balinese mask on the wall? Remember: most applicants will simply arrive, sit down, and begin taking questions. What’s memorable about that? If you make an intelligent and appropriate comment to start out, you’ll be remembered. Take a seat once you’re invited to, and keep in mind the following points as you speak:
- Organization and Logic. Show that you’ve invested some thought in this industry, company, and your possible place in the scheme of things. Try to make it appear that you’re a self-starter with a nimble mind. Make your points concisely and back each one up with evidence. Be firm without being dogmatic; generous when mentioning others; personable but not silly. Impress them with the value of your opinions, without seeming to consider them worthy of Fort Knox.
- Enthusiasm. Convey the impression that this employment opportunity excites you. Project enough energy that they pick up on it and get a charge themselves. They’ll feel good about the interview afterwards, even if they can’t put their finger on exactly why.
- Emotion: Be human. Don’t buy into the myth that emotions have no place in the world of business and commerce. Speak passionately about the things that matter to you (as long as you don’t come across as obsessive). Just be sure that your passionate positions are in line with their thinking and business practices.
- Smile. You smile too infrequently in your professional life (whoever you are). If this interview appears to be making you work like hell, it’ll seem like hard work for your interviewers too. They may even get the impression that the thought of being part of this organization doesn’t turn you on. Instead of leading them to such a grim conclusion, try to seem like a pleasant person to be around.
Most of all, don’t be a mysterious presence who needs information coaxed out of them, grunt by ineloquent grunt. That works for Hollywood anti-heroes and comic book crime-fighters, but not for the rest of us.Takeaways from this blog:
- Your behavior in the interview, not specific answers, is the most important part of the equation.
- Spend less time preparing content and more time being comfortable with people.
- Have the courage to be yourself. That's the interesting person in the mix!
- Show emotions. Humans tend to like hiring other humans.
My blogs on similar topics:
- To Be an Effective Speaker, Learn How to Tell Stories
- Leadership Skills: The 5 Essential Speaking Techniques
- 10 Ways to Stay Fully Focused when Speaking