There is much to be said for what you should do both before and after an interview. But when you are actually in the job interview itself, how should you conduct yourself to maximize your chances of getting an offer of employment?
It starts when you walk onto the property of the employer. Any one of the people you meet entering the building, passing by in the corridor or even sharing the washroom with might turn out to be the very person you need to impress yourself upon. Rather than trying to be someone who turns on the professionalism and charm only with the right people, do your best to be polite and friendly with everyone as the rule, not the exception.
Once you’ve met the person at reception to advise them of your arrival, again be courteous, friendly and use your time waiting to get your breathing under control, remind yourself that your resume outlining your qualifications was good enough to get you this far, and it’s not a bad idea to also remind yourself that you are going to simply have a conversation with an employer who has some needs you could fill. You aren’t the only here who is under pressure; you need a job but they need someone to fill a vacancy.
Okay so your moment has arrived and someone has come out to introduce themselves. Smile, shake their hand, look them in the eye and sound genuinely pleased to meet them. Take in the surroundings as you pass out of the public area into the space reserved for employees, and if you are engaged in small talk on the way to the interview area, it will likely be on such things as the weather, finding the workplace that morning; every day conversations you’d likely have with anyone.
When you enter the actual room set aside for the interview, you’ll first note two things almost immediately; whether the interview is 1:1 or a panel, and secondly whether or not the seating area includes a desktop or not. If the area you are to sit in has some desktop area, lay out your folder with your cover letter, resume, references and the job posting, put your pad of paper and pen next to it. This will visually demonstrate to the interviewer(s) that you are prepared for this meeting, you are organized and you’re taking the process seriously. No desk surface? Take your folder in your hands, and place it open and on your lap ready to refer to it if and when necessary.
Some people are still under the impression that you should show up in the interview with nothing other than a single sheet of your references. Where does it say that? Rather than looking like your somehow cheating if you need to refer to your resume or a note you’ve made in your research, having the items mentioned earlier on visual display demonstrate that you enter important meetings prepared and ready to go. And if you prepared well for this meeting, you are likely going to repeat this process when employed.
As for the questions they’ll ask of you, as trite as it sounds, answer the questions asked. One woman I know who is well-educated recently lost her chance at a job because she didn’t actually answer the questions put to her. She was going for a promotion and as she was being interviewed by someone who worked with her everyday, she assumed their relationship and what the boss knew of her already would be enough to get her by. She saw the interview as a formality instead of an unbiased opportunity for a job, and as it turns out she didn’t get it.
There are a few things you want to communicate every single time without fail; first your genuine desire for the job. Yes you should ask for the job and many don’t feeling it is somehow inappropriate to be so forthcoming. Ask for it! Get into the interview and if this is something you really want, sound like it and look like it. Please do yourself a favour and cite very specific examples from your past and current experiences that prove you have the skills and qualifications you are telling them you have.
Examples are critical. Talking in vague generalities about what you might do in the future in a given situation is very 1990’s. In your answers, paint a visual picture for the interviewer of the job site and company where you dealt with that challenging customer, never use real names to identify people you may have had interaction with as this shows your respect for confidentiality. The more examples you use, the greater your credibility.
Do prepare some questions which will again show you’re genuinely interested. What you ask about will show your understanding of the role you are to play, what’s important to you and your enthusiasm for the job or not. Ask nothing and say all your questions were answered, and you come across as bland, forgettable and a poor fit.
Ensure the usual stuff of course; good posture and grooming, appropriate clothing, no fidgeting with your hair or annoying finger tapping or leg swinging. Bring some extra copies of your resume or CV in case there’s more than one interviewer, and walk in and out confidently.
Remember that a job interview should be framed as really just a conversation between two or more people where the topic agreed upon is a job vacancy. See it for what it is.