Interviews are the most important part of the hiring process. In fact, Lou Adler, a recognized expert on performance-based hiring, has stated numerous times, “It is the person that interviews the best that gets the position and not necessarily the most qualified applicant”.
Also, interviews are probably the toughest part of job hunting. It’s easy to anonymously submit generic applications online but sitting down face-to-face with your protentional boss is intimidating. You are essentially asking them to judge you on your resume, appearance, and the small amount of information you can present about yourself in the allotted half hour. It’s no wonder most people find the experience of interviewing highly unpleasant.
Here are some simple steps you can take to impress the hiring authority on your first meeting.
First impressions do matter, and the initial fifteen seconds of an interview can, and usually does, affect the outcome. With that in mind, pay careful attention to how you dress; no one was ever not hired because they were over-dressed at an interview. Even if you end up in a suit while the interviewer is wearing jeans, the situation is still far better than if it was the other way around. Hygiene and grooming are also very important. Wear deodorant, brush your teeth, look the best you can, and remember the old adage which is absolutely true in the case of a face-to-face interview, ‘You won’t get a second chance for a first impression’.
Never underestimate the power of body language. Smiling and making eye contact are excellent first steps. It is also important to stand up straight and have good posture. While these things may be superfluous, they send the subtle message that you are confident, and confidence is very attractive to hiring authorities. It tells them that this is someone who they can trust to get the job done and won’t give up easily.
After the first impression, the next thing an interviewer is likely to notice is your manners. Some will even go so far as to ask the receptionist about your behavior while waiting. That is why it is important to always extend the utmost courtesy to every person you meet during an interview. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had to wait half an hour to be seen, never lash out at the receptionist. There is nothing they can do to make the process any faster. Losing your temper shows a lack of patience and self-control. Most of the companies you want to work for won’t keep you waiting very long, but there is always the possibility of unforeseen circumstances. I know of one company that purposely keeps candidates waiting for an hour simply to see how they handled stressful moments.
While in the interview, it is important to remain on topic and answer the questions in a concise manner. Giving examples and telling business-related stories to demonstrate your skills in a professional setting is often helpful as it allows the interviewer to understand how you utilize your talents. It’s best to avoid personal stories that have little to do with the topic at hand since what you view as a funny story from your past, might not come across as professional in a business environment.
Humility and Honesty
It is also a good idea to remain humble. Using statements such as ‘with the assistance of my department’ and ‘I was honored to work with’ demonstrate that you are a team player who gets along well with others. While you should tell the interviewer what you have achieved, don’t forget to mention those who helped you along the way. One of the most important things hiring authorities need to determine is whether you will be a good fit for the company. They will not be interested in someone who doesn’t work well in groups or who comes off as arrogant.
Never forget that the most important thing is to remain honest and forthright. A hiring authority might not be able to tell you are lying in the interview, but your lie will come out eventually. If you are hired under false pretenses, I can guarantee that your employment will be neither long nor enjoyable. Dishonesty is one of the worst things you can bring to any professional environment. Once you are found out, your name and reputation will be ruined. The company will never again consider you for a position and, when word spreads, many others will follow suit.
Doing research before arriving is critical. The last thing you want is to show up for an interview and not know anything about the position or what the company does. If you don’t prepare thoroughly, it will appear as if you are not taking the interview seriously. You should arrive knowing who the company is and why you want the position. Nothing will impress an interviewer more than showing the excitement you have for what the company does and the passion you would bring to the position.
A Few Other Tips
It is very important that you build rapport and try to find some common ground with the interviewer. If you meet in their office and see a piece of memorabilia from a sports team you are familiar with, comment on it. Ask about a painting they have on the wall that you like. Take notice of the photos they might have of their family on their desk and don’t be afraid to mention that you are also a parent. None of this should take more than a few sentences to communicate, but it can help you build rapport and will allow them to see you with more depth.
Be memorable in a good way. Sometimes interviewers see dozens of candidates, this can cause them to start losing track. There are lots of ways to stand out from the crowd. For instance, wearing a particularly eye-catching piece of jewelry or telling the interviewer a trick for remembering your name when you are introduced. It doesn’t have to be much, even something small can set you apart.
Always ask intelligent questions when given the opening. This will show your desire to have a better understanding of the company as a whole and that you have been paying attention to what the interviewer has told you. Being willing to ask questions is also a quality most hiring authorities like to see as it demonstrates the humility to seek another’s wisdom.
The interviewer is most likely to remember their first impression of you as well as their last. Always ask if the hiring authority has any other questions or concerns about you being a great fit for the position. Don’t be afraid to express to the hiring authority that you are very interested and would like to know the next steps.
When the interview comes to an end, be sure to thank the interviewer for their time and leave with a firm handshake. While this seems cliché, it is an appropriate closing to the procedure. You don’t want to hang around making small talk when the interviewer has other responsibilities to attend to. A courteous farewell makes for a graceful exit.
In closing, it is obvious that there is no single thing you can do to win over a hiring authority on the first interview. Instead, there are many small details that you must bring together to show yourself in the best light. You never want to give a false impression or pretend to be someone/something you are not. Your goal should be to present the best possible version of yourself. A good hiring authority will appreciate your sincerity as well as your talent.