Interviewing shouldn’t make you break out in cold sweats, curl up into a ball and cry for mercy. It helps to think of the interview as an opportunity to showcase what you have to offer to a lucky employer. Remember that any interview is a conversation set up to help others gain a better understanding of your sparkling personality and abilities.
Everyone knows the common faux paus like being late or chewing gum, but mistakes like negative body language, not listening and avoiding questions do just as much damage. Create awareness of these mistakes and use the following interview tips to help you to stand out in a competitive job market and make your interview work for you.
1. Practice with a Friend
What ties most people in anxious knots is anticipating the unknown. Drop kick that anxiety by writing down your own list of common interview questions. Recruit a friend’s help and let her use the questions to grill away. A good grilling beforehand will help move you into a frame of mind where you are thinking about issues and forming and articulating opinions. Include questions about personality and practice describing your amazing accomplishments, projects and positive results. Make this mock interview as accurate as possible by entering the room, introducing yourself and sitting down. Practice a nice, firm handshake and a cool, confident entrance.
2. Use Positive Body Language
Avoid slouching, crossed arms, slumping, twiddling fingers or other nervous ticks. These are common things that people do on autopilot. Be aware of these habits. Observe them and correct as you go. One way is to get your mock interviewer to add a verbal correction such as “You’re slouching” or use a bell or other sound to make you aware. Don’t do the opposite and try to remain as stiff as a board. You want to get into a relaxed state of ease. Get the right vibe by having an open posture with relaxed arms to comes across as friendly and professional.
3. Make Eye Contact
People like to connect and one easy way to do so is through eye contact. It’s very personal and most people like to do it when interviewing. Practice it! It is not second nature. Practice how long you should hold the gaze before it feels uncomfortable. You don’t want eye contact to cross into stalker stare territory. A real connection will make it easier for you to stand out even in a competitive job market, so don’t feel silly. Avoiding eye contact gives the impression of nervousness or hiding and makes it harder to connect. Unless you fibbed on your resume, (You would never do that right?) you have nothing to hide. Making eye contact is key to connecting with the other person.
4. Reduce Informal Verbal habits such as um, like, you know!
Speaking too casually is unacceptable in any interview situation. This may be the hardest habit to break. No one is immune to this verbal vice. Blame it on your weekend text a thons with friends. Try to reduce these junk words in everyday speech, especially just before an interview. Get your partner to ring the bell again or make a sound for each offense during your mock interview. This creates an instant awareness of how often you say any of these words. One reason people have these verbal ticks is because they feel the need to fill the space or to stall. Many people read silences as an uncomfortable moment. Instead, practice pausing or taking a breath before answering questions. Pausing will help you gather your thoughts and silence during that moment is acceptable. This may be a hard challenge, but is well worth the effort.
5. Ask Informed Questions
Most people want to breathe a sigh of relief and escape as soon as they are done. It is very easy to run out of an interview even when you have legitimate questions. A better approach is to write down any pressing questions beforehand to ask after the interviewer is done. Review this list right before you enter. Interviewers usually ask if there is anything else or if you have any questions. This is the appropriate time to get in those concerns if it hasn’t happened naturally. Asking well thought out questions helps you to come off as prepared, well organized and inquisitive. Compare that to the candidates who awkwardly end the interview with a bland, “No, I don’t have anything else to say or ask.” Advantage: You, in all of your brazen glory.
6. Really Listen
Nerves can get in anyone’s way of having a great interview. Sometimes those nerves lead to one of the worst mistakes, not listening. Not listening can really interrupt your interview groove. Some interviewees concentrate so hard on what they will be saying next that they don’t fully comprehend the question. Don’t be one of those candidates. If you’d really like to stand out in a competitive job market get out of autopilot and connect. An interview is a conversation; you must listen in order to have a conversation. Being too self -conscious and evaluating an answer while speaking is one of the psych outs that distracts you. When you’re fully tuned in you are able to react to the person organically. You may be able to transition into a point that highlights a personal achievement or talent. Challenge yourself by asking your partner to throw in a nonsense question during your mock interview. Practice listening in everyday conversations. It’s a skill that goes a long way.
An interview is an opportunity to connect with individuals making a decision about your future. If you want to stand out in a competitive job market you should present the best, brightest, most confident and knowledgeable version of yourself possible. Use these interview to help you to relax, prepare and succeed in having a stellar interview.