This post is by Eileen N. Sinett, a speech and presentation leadership coach, communication consultant, author and keynote speaker.
While the job search process has changed dramatically over the last few years with the advent of social media and online procedures, these tips for job interviews are still tried and true.
- Prepare! In an interview, unlike a game show, your role goes beyond merely answering each question.
- Develop a succinct and confident mini-presentation that sends the message of leadership, character and confidence. Know and own (don’t memorize) your 1-minute summary of skills, talents and achievements. If you have trouble tooting your own horn and starting with “I”, use starters such as: “My friends have said I’m… My last boss described me as… Most people tell me…”
- Prepare one or two questions to ask the interviewer. These can be about the company culture or the position for which you are interviewing. Keep them warm and light (rather than hot and heavy). Save money questions until after offer is made (not in the initial interview).
- Be fully present in the moment. Turn off your internal dialogue and self-doubt, e.g., “I wonder what he’s thinking, if she likes my suit, I should have cut my hair, shaved, worn different shoes, etc”). Focus on the process, not the outcome. Life is not yesterday or tomorrow, but a series of “now” moments. Experience them!
- Use less perfume or cologne! Not everyone loves the same smells. Scents can be perceived as “scent”-sational or nasty on the nose!
- Be comfortable with silence. Your answers to questions do not need to “stand at attention.” Allow yourself a 1- second breath that connects your thoughts with your heart so you will respond authentically and completely.
- Dress appropriately – err on the side of conservative. Of course, different industries have different standards. Casual could mean jeans and a t-shirt, or it could mean khakis and a shirt with a collar. A long-sleeve cardigan, pull-over or blazer can complement jeans or slacks and give you a casual image edge.
- Don’t underestimate the power of your handshake. This is probably the only time you and the interviewer will touch! A firm handshake doesn’t mean a bone-breaker. A limp or weak handshake suggests a weak personality.
- Listen to questions completely, even if you think you know exactly where the questioner is heading. Some cultures are trained to respond as they understand the question, rather than wait for the speaker to finish speaking. This interjection can be perceived as impulsive and interruptive by another culture. Listening longer allows you to notice interview dynamics and other details that can give you a communication advantage.
- Role-play or review questions to which you are nervous about responding. Perhaps you were out of work for five years, or were terminated from a job. Know how you want to respond and move on. Keep your responses broad at first, and give the details only if asked.
- Speak professionally. Eliminate slang. No f—in’ way is not okay!
- Close the interview with a request for the “next step”. Restate the next step for confirmation. Follow up by phone if the next step is not forthcoming. Consider sending a handwritten thank you note for a personal and memorable touch.