Learning to interview well is a skill that can be developed and improved. The pointers in this article will provide you with a number of tools and strategies to strengthen your interview technique.
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Play down the importance
Individuals who feel nervous before interviews often do so because they attach an enormous amount of importance on getting the job.
Language like; ‘this is my dream job I must get it’, ‘it is a once in a lifetime opportunity’, ‘my life would be perfect if I get this’, only serves to add unwanted pressure to the whole interview experience.
Usually when you want to acheive a goal desperately you push it further beyond your grasp. It is always the individual doesn’t pin all of their hopes on getting the job that seems to land it.
In interview situations like many other things in life, you need to pitch your efforts right in the middle between over and under wanting.
If you are apathetic towards achieving your goal, in this case landing a job, you become lazy. On the other end of the spectrum over wanting your goal may leave you feeling stressed, in trying too hard to make it happen. Consequently over selling yourself in front of your potential employers may create the impression of someone who is desperate and needy.
One way to find the optimal point between under and over trying is write 5 or more reasons why getting the job will be a positive result, and 5 or more reasons why not getting the job will be a positive result.
This will ensure you hit the middle ground between the extremes of over and under wanting the job.
Below is an example for each extreme:
Why getting the job will be a good thing?
- It is a fantastic opportunity to acquire new skills
Why not the getting job will be a good thing?
- I may miss out on other opportunities by committing to this post
By softening your desire to get the job, you increase the likelihood of getting it
Learn from your interview experiences
See interviews as win-win situations. Even if you don’t end up getting the job you still gain invaluable experience that will stand you in good stead for the next interview.
The more interviews you complete, the more polished your interview technique will become.
After every interview write down 3 or more things that you felt you did well, and write down 3 or more things that you felt you could have improved on.
Failure is an attitude not a fact, and if you can extract the positives from every interview you will not become despondent if the job goes to someone else.
Don’t talk for the sake of talking
In interviews you are being judged on the quality of what you say, and how you say it. Do not be fooled into thinking that the more you have to say the better your interview will be.
It is more important to be economical and selective with the information that you chose to divulge. It shows the interviewers that you have taken care and consideration in constructing your answers and you aren’t just talking for the sake of it.
Body language is everything
92% of human communication is non-verbal.
Professor Albert Mehrabian of UCLA showed that human communication is more about how you speak, rather than what you say, O’Connor and Seymour (1994).
Therefore spend an equal amount of time, if not more, focusing on how to present the information, and not just on the content.
Working on adopting a welcoming body position, a confident posture, positive facial expressions, and a clear and well-balanced voice, are all important attributes that influence the quality of your presentation in interview environments:
“What you are doing speaks so loud I can’t hear what you say.” Emerson
Answer the question
Its amazing how many individuals fail to do this.
Before an interview it is common to preoccupy yourself with the act of storing up a full armoury of fantastic responses to potential questions. Although this appears to be an effective form of preparation, it does however increase the tendency to ignore the interviewer’s questions and focus on delivering your prepared answers.
Not answering the interviewer’s questions without the ideal level of precision and relevance is ill-advised.
If you are keen to use the responses that you have stored, be sure they relate to questions being asked.
Politicians are the masters at this. They can always artfully twist the question into an opportunity to express what they really want to say.
If this is your chosen route, think of ways to redirect the question so that it naturally invites the opportunity to express your desired response.
Limit differences and emphasise similarities
It is a fictitious myth that opposites attract.
Your chances of getting the job will increase when you accentuate the similarities between you and your potential employers.
“We like people who are similar to us.” (Byrne, 1971)
By creating common ground instant rapport is generated, forming the seeds of a long-term relationship.
Making eye contact with your interviewers is an important and natural expression of interest towards them and the potential job opportunity.
When you talk make eye contact with everyone on the panel. They all have a part to play in deciding whether or not you get the job, and if you alienate some of your interviewers it may damage your prospects of landing the position.
Feel comfortable with silences
Learn to feel comfortable with silences during the interviewing process. When the interviewer(s) ask you a question give yourself a few seconds to plan and organise your response. Incorporating strategic pauses during the interview process is beneficial for a number of reasons:
- It gives you time to think and plan your next words.
- It adds emphasis to what you are about to say.
- It shows the interviewers that you are carefully crafting your response.
- It adds anticipation to what you are about to say.