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How To Shine in a Job Interview

If you mastered my ‘Nailing Your Phone Interview” tips, you will, of course, now be preparing for your face-to-face interview. So you will be glad to know that I have some killer tips for that too!

Often, it’s the subtle nuances and attention to detail will make the choice clear for a hiring manager. So you should leave nothing to chance and prepare for this important meeting.

These tips are meant to help you secure one of two things: an invitation to the next round of interviews OR a job offer. Communication is key here and, unlike in a phone interview, you communicate in several ways including verbal communication and body language, as well as your eyes and your facial expressions.

This is a lot to keep in mind during a nerve-inducing interview. However, if you keep these tips in mind and practice with a spouse, friend, family pet or just in the mirror, you will have more confidence and a better shot at landing the job.

Tip #1: Prepare questions
Take 20 minutes to review the company’s web site and prepare 2-3 questions.  These questions should both show that you’ve taken the time to prepare for the interview, and should absolutely not focus on salary or benefits.  Should an opportunity come up to utilize these questions, start with “When I reviewed your web site…”.

Tip#2: Bring your resume
As a part of your preparation, print your resume on resume letterhead and bring enough copies for each person you are meeting with plus one. Be sure to bring a portfolio to carry these resumes and a pad of paper and pen to take notes.

Tip #3 : Wear a suit
…and, Guys, wear a tie. Don’t over think this one – you can’t over-dress for an interview.

Tip #4: DO DISCUSS
…positive experiences, ways you have contributed to organizations, successes, career goals, etc. Be prepared with examples of each of these that you can weave into the conversation.

Tip#5: DO NOT DISCUSS
…negative experiences, things you hated about your previous boss, how much money you want, how important vacation time is, how much you hate companies that are open the week of Christmas, etc.

Tip #6:  Smile. A lot
People should enjoy speaking with you – whether it’s someone you say “good morning” to in the parking lot or  the receptionist when he asks you to sign the log book.

Tip #7:  Observe lobby etiquette
If you are going to sit in the lobby, do not bury your head in a magazine. Stay alert and be prepared to immediately stand and shake the hand of the person who comes to get you. A firm handshake and warm smile goes a looooooong way.

Tip#8: Be likable
Amazingly, the hiring manager automatically puts most candidates are in one of two pools when they arrive for an interview. There are the “I don’t know if this person has what we need” people and the “I hope they don’t screw this up because I want to hire them” people. Unfortunately, you have little way of knowing which group your interviewer represents, so it is important that they both like your personality as well as your background. Liking the person generally supersedes experience (when experience is within the parameters) and most hiring managers will hire the person they like and forsee enjoying working alongside.

Tip #9:  Watch your body language
While interviewing, sit up straight, lean slightly forward, take notes, smile where appropriate and make lots of eye contact with everyone in the room.

Tip #10:  Keep it professional
Do not discuss your personal life. If you find the interviewer’s favorite baseball team is your favorite baseball team, great! Make a personal connection and talk about the team. But do not talk about the party you went to last weekend and how much you drank; your personal life should not be a part of the interview at all.

Tip #11: Be excited about the job!
Even if you are unsure, even if you “know” you do not want the job, stay positive and excited. You may change your mind. If you intimate in the slightest way that you are unsure, the company will decide against moving forward.

Tip #12: Ask relevant questions in the conversation

Often times, interviewees ask things that would be “nice to know”, but have no bearing on whether or not they would take the job. Spend your time focused on the areas that matter to you or, if you know you want the job, focus on questions that allow the interviewer to talk about how great their company is.

Tip #13: Be confident
You have every reason to be! Remember, they are interviewing you for a reason: you have the skills they need. Be confident in your skills and share examples with your interviewer on how you made your most recent firm better by being a part of the team. Do not be arrogant. Remember, personality will outweigh experience most of the time.

Tip #14: Take the bull by the horns

By asking this question to anyone who interviews you: “Do you have any concerns about my ability to succeed in this position?”

9 out of 10 times a direct question yields a direct response. The interviewer will either say “no” (great!) or they will say “yes” and tell you their concern. If their concern is accurate, acknowledge that it is accurate, but share experiences you have that would mitigate the concern and what you would do to address their concern if given the opportunity (examples include self studying, taking classes, staying late, research, etc). Either way, it is better to know what you are up against rather than hanging up and not knowing. IMPORTANT: If you know what their concern is, then work to address it before the interview and show that you are proactive (i.e. “I took the liberty of reviewing the most recent GLP standards as it pertains to your company in an effort to demonstrate my commitment to this job.”).

Tip #15: Ask for the job
If you are interested in the position, do not leave the interviewer in any doubt that you are.

In my experience, following these tips will give you an opportunity to viably compete for any position. What tips would you give from your own experiences?

3 Comments

  1. Suzanne on October 1, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks Travis,
    These are great tips. #15 is important. When we are interviewing we want to know that the person wants the job with us too and isn’t just using us for interview practice.
    If a person comes out and says they really want this job, that is someone we want on our team!

    I wanted to comment on #6- Smile. One thing that stood out about our incredibly talented graphics person when we interviewed her was her smile. It gave her the edge over the other candidates. Smiling can make the difference.

  2. A Free Man on September 30, 2009 at 5:56 am

    Good tips. Especially #3. A lot of people in academia think that clothes don’t matter. But they do, and you never look bad in a suit.

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