I’ve gone from interviewee to interviewer, so I feel like I’m in the best possible place to give you advice. I’ve interviewed lots of people, and most of the time I can tell the difference between a yes and a no within five minutes of a forty-five-minute interview. There are some things to do in a job interview that will make a great impression with any interview. But don’t just take it from me, don’t walk into your next interview without reading this first…
1. Your communication skills
Do you speak with your hands? Are you talking fast or using lots of verbal fillers? The way you talk suggests a lot about you. Gemma Metheringham, chief creative officer at Karen Millen told the Guardian, ‘even though you’re nervous, try and listen to the person or people you’re meeting. Try and engage them in conversation and make an impression.’
She’s right, you know that, but did you know that mirroring your interviewer’s way of speaking will make them warm to you more? Be subtle, and it should work.
2. Whether your body is giving you away
Your body language communicates what you are really feeling. Whether you know it or not, your interviewer is studying you and will notice the visual clues about how you’re acting or what you’re feeling without you even knowing you’re giving them away. Try Amy Cuddy’s power pose exercises, they will make you feel more powerful. And be aware of how you hold yourself when you’re in the hot seat.
Steve Gutzler, an expert in Emotional Intelligence, says that the information exchanged during an interview is equally as important as your mood. Emotions and how you convey them directly influence your interviewer. Make sure you look alert and powerful.
3. How you answer difficult questions
Sometimes, a tricky question demands an answer. It’s tempting to work through it out loud or try to change the subject, but there’s a reason those tricky questions are thrown in. If you don’t know the answer, hiring managers want to know how you communicate that.
One recruiter remarked on Pongo Resume that a candidate who stayed silent after being asked a tough question scored bonus points because they didn’t jump to give an answer. Their silence and reflection communicated maturity and confidence, more so than anyone who tried to answer quickly.
4. Whether you match the job description
One secret that most interviewers admit to is that they almost never hire the person who most closely matches the job description. You can be perfect on paper, but it almost never works out. The job description is a loose guide, what you bring to the table that’s separate from that is a bonus.
The hidden criteria that decides whether you get the job or not is your personability, how you engage with your interviewer or interviewers and the preparation you’ve done beforehand. Honesty and clarity about every area of your expertise will get you far.
5. What you do next
The etiquette on post-interview follow-ups is blurry. Should you ignore them and forget about the job? Do you send them a thank you note afterward? Most hiring managers say people who send thank you notes stand out in their mind more clearly than those that don’t.
Just a quick message thanking them for their time and repeating a fact you learned about the company during the interview will show the hiring manager you were engaged and that you’re passionate about the company culture. You don’t have to put in emotional catchphrases like ‘hope to hear from you soon’, or ‘fingers crossed’, the only purpose of this is to thank them for their time and let them know you learned something from your conversation.
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