Be better than the next guy with these sly strategies…
1. Look The Part
It’s not simply a matter of being well dressed, it’s a matter of being dressed for the part. Think of Tom Hanks in that film directed by Ron Howard. What costume did he wear? The woollen sports jacket? The NASA astronaut gear? The classic charcoal suit? Obviously it depends on whether you’re thinking of Tom Hanks in Ron Howard’s Splash, Apollo 13 or The Da Vinci Code.
Now apply that same logic to the job interview. You’re auditioning for a role—so know what costume fits the role. Wearing skinny jeans and a Bon Iver T-shirt will get you laughed out of an interview to be a corporate accountant. But it might be spot-on if you’re applying to be head barista at the local hipster cafe. Ensure the clothes you choose suit the employment context. Judge your choice by the industry-wide vibe: banking is more conservative than marketing; marketing less edgy than fashion, etc. If you’re going to err, err on the side of caution. Better to appear be seen to be a little safe than to be a laughing stock. If you’re really in doubt, call the human resources department and ask the dress code expected of employees. If that makes you uncomfortable, do a little reconnaissance of the business to see what people wear.
Whatever you choose, ensure it’s clean, in good repair and well presented. Take care with your personal grooming. Wearing sneakers, designer jeans and an ironic T-shirt might be just fine if you’re going for a job in an advertising agency, but having unkempt hair, filthy nails, dirty teeth and bad breath isn’t going to win “cool” points anywhere.
2. First Impressions Count
You never get a second chance to make a great first impression. Psychological studies say that we evaluate people subconsciously within seven seconds of meeting them for the first time. That means every glance and gesture counts. When you meet your interviewer, look him or her in the eye, offer a firm handshake and a warm smile. This trifecta establishes immediate rapport, shows that you’re confident, friendly and enthusiastic. Do not try naff “dominance” moves to get the “upper hand” in the handshake and don’t offer a bone crusher. You’ll just come of as a jerk. Just as bad is the “cold fish” handshake and an inability to maintain eye contact during the conversation. These simply say you’re lacking the confidence that your prospective employer is looking for.
3. Do Some Research
Who’s interviewing you? You’re well within your rights to check the person’s corporate biography and their LinkedIn profile. You might discover you went to the same university or worked for the same company previously. Press releases, media stories or online interviews that the person have given can indicate their personality, interests, expectations and ideas on the company specifically and their industry in general. All of this knowledge can be hugely valuable in giving you insight into what you should and shouldn’t focus on in the interview. While you don’t want to come across as a stalker, indicating that you’ve done your research shows you’re serious about wanting the job. Even just knowing what your interviewer looks like can make you more comfortable before you arrive. Similarly, learn as much as you can about the company and/or department you hope to work for. Being familiar with their history, founders, philosophy, products, marketing, successes and even setbacks demonstrates you’re already thinking like a valued employee. Doing a Google News search by date relevance can also ensure that you have the latest information about the company. It’s embarrassing, for instance, to have to admit you didn’t know the bank was just bought out by a competitor.
4. Rehearse For The Role
Tom Hanks is an ace actor. He’s got the Oscars to prove it. But even he doesn’t walk into a role without rehearsing the script and his character’s reactions. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for you. Imagine the interview. Think about the sort of questions you’re likely to be asked. What information should be in your answer? How little or how much detail do you need to provide? How do you answer in a way that shows you’ve done your research? Bullet-point that information out. Rehearse in the mirror or with a friend playing the interviewer. Being able to deliver your answers succinctly while hitting all your key points impresses upon the interviewer that you know what you’re about. If you can’t deliver a great answer to the question, “Why are you the best person for the job?” then the chances are you simply aren’t.
Other questions you should be able to answer without hesitation: “Why do you want this job?; “Why do you think you’d fit the corporate culture?”; “Why did you leave your last job?”; “What matters most to you career-wise?”; “What changes would you make to the business/department/role?”; “What salary do you expect?”. Also: it really can’t hurt to have an answer to the dreaded, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” question.
The goal is to eliminate hesitation and demonstrate knowledge—about yourself, your skills, your interviewer, the role, the company and the industry.
5. Listen & Question
Everything the interviewer says gives you information about him or her, the role being offered and the company you hope to work for. If the interviewer volunteers something personal—about family, a hobby, an interest—a follow-up question or comment expresses interest, curiosity and helps build rapport. Follow-up questions about the job responsibilities or company’s direction demonstrate that you understand the basics and are already delving into the deeper aspects of the role and business. Be an active listener and participant in the conversation. Don’t just sit there nodding and looking like you can’t wait to escape.
6. Body Language
Sit and stand up straight with your chin up, chest out and shoulders squared. While you don’t want to appear stiff and robotic, good posture communicates power and confidence. If you’re a natural sloucher, practice in the mirror. In the days before the interview, give yourself frequent reminders (use your phone if you need to) to check your posture. By the time the interview comes around, you’ll be less likely to forget and slump back into your usual pose. Another great strategy: exercising a few hours before the job interview will likely relax you, make you feel more physically powerful and help you exude a sense of confident well-being During the interview, mirroring the interviewer’s body language can create help create connection. Adopting a similar sitting position, body angle, vocal tone, speaking pace and hand gestures can quickly build rapport. For instance, if the interviewer leans forward, lowers his or her voice and speaks slowly, you should respond in kind. You’re being drawn into a confidence. If you respond by leaning back in your chair, maintaining a loud tone and speaking fast you’re communicating that you’re opposed to the interviewer. Be sure to mirror carefully and when it feels right: overdoing it while make you seem like a creepy mime.