Whenever I’ve prepared for a job interview and asked my friends for help, I always hear the same thing: “Just be yourself!” However, for many people the prospect of a job interview is too scary to even begin to feel comfortable, and for others it is important not to show their real selves, at least not until after they’ve gotten the job and established a rapport with coworkers. So what’s some advice that is good for job interviews?
1. Seem Interested in What Your Interviewer Has to Say
Although you’re probably listening intently to what the interviewer has to say, it’s important not to listen so hard that you are missing what they are actually saying or failing to show interest. One of the biggest problems interviewers have in job interviews is that the candidate bores them, and I can imagine this happened because the candidate isn’t really that engaged in the interview.
While it’s important not to feign enthusiasm, talking in an animated way and giving your interview signals that show you are acknowledging his or her comments is going to help you seem human and interesting. Staring blankly is not. So even if the question is hard, remember to do a head nod, to smile if it’s appropriate, and to look generally interested in being in the interview. Don’t bore the person asking the questions.
2. Give Interesting Answers
This may be easier said than done, but it is imperative that your answers are both relevant and interesting to listen to. If 21% of candidates report that their interviewers seemed bored during the interview (Carniol) it’s probably because they are, and you aren’t going to get a job by boring people.
Giving an interesting answer will mean engaging in visual communication as we’ve talk about above; simply inflecting your voice differently, being animated, smiling, and making eye contact, as well as not giving the verbatim answers that everyone else will give, will do the same. Although a job interview requires you to showcase your skills and experience, employers are also trying to decide if they like you as a human being and if they’d want to work with you, so you are also trying to individuate.
When preparing for your interview, think of the classic interview questions like “What is your biggest weakness?” and “What can you offer to this company?” and think of real, interesting answers to give. We all know the classic answer to the weakness question is that you’re too detail-orientated, or too conscientious, but what would you really answer? You don’t have to tell your future employer that you have a problem staying on task, but if you coupled it with “so I’ve developed a set of processes to help me maintain focus,” you’re going to look a lot better than someone who parroted an answer from an online interview guide.
3. Research the Company and Ask Questions
Doing a little research on the company is imperative, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask whoever sets up the interview where you should go to find information. Saying something like, “I’ve looked your company up online, but was wondering if there was somewhere I could find information about what you do?” or, “Is there anything specific I need to know or read in preparation for the interview?” will show that you are proactive and eager to learn. In addition, if there is going to be a practical test, ask them what you need to do to prepare and for any information about what you will be tested on. It’s not going to hurt you to show that you are interested and invested in the interview process.
4. Follow Up, Even If You Don’t Get the Job
While job interviews are stressful, they are also learning opportunities so it is important to follow up afterward. If you haven’t heard anything back in a week and they didn’t give you a specific timeframe for hearing back, call them and follow up. Even if they haven’t yet made their decision, you are showing that you are invested in the position, and if they tell you they decided on another candidate, ask if you can have some feedback about your application and interview. This will give you some advice on how to approach interviews with other companies, and amend your interview presentation.
The job interview process can be a mine field, and it’s easy for things to go wrong, but preparation should be your number one priority. Whether it’s preparing by researching, being personable, or choosing an outfit, all of these things contribute to a successful interview. Don’t just be yourself, be the best you can be.
Carniol, Alan. “5 Mistakes Job Interviewers Secretly Hate.” Mashable. http://mashable.com/2013/06/17/interview-mistakes-2/. (19 May, 2013).