How to Rock Your Next Job Interview

06.19.13 How to Rock a Job Interview

The word interview is an oxymoron in and of itself.  Think about it. It’s a formal conversation, yet you’re supposed to be relaxed. It calls for you to be calm when nerves try to take control. You’re asked to be yourself while wearing a business shirt, even though you’d rather have on jeans and Converse sneakers. Sure, it’s not exactly synonymous with relaxation. But the interview doesn’t have to dominate you; you can dominate the interview and win the job. Dana Manciagli, career coach and author of Cut the Crap, Get a Job!, shares five ways to overcome interview jitters and gracefully land your next gig.

Understand the real reason for job interviews.
Hiring managers aren’t just listening for the right answers; they are noticing behaviors and trying to spot the ideal candidate. Your handshake, closing remarks, and follow-up notes matter – a lot. Managers use those gestures to determine if you’ll blend in with office culture.  Making a connection in the interview is important.  And one of the best ways to do that is eye contact. Eye contact gives a sense of confidence and engagement. If you don’t make eye contact in the interview, then you probably won’t make eye contact with customers, clients and coworkers.

Be early for everything.
This rule applies to phone meetings, informational meetings, and of course the in-person interview.  If you are not ready by the phone or in the waiting room 30 minutes prior to the start time, then you are late.   The interviewer wants to know that you are committed, have good time-management skills, and you respect time.  Be early.

Be over-prepared.
First, prepare for the questions you’ll get, and bring good questions to ask.  Second, bring the right things to the meeting.  True it is the digital age, but always bring printed copies of your résumé, cover letter and the job description. Bring paper and two pens (one for backup). Show that you took the time to research the company and the job. Have insightful questions, and show that you will be prepared for key events once hired.

Have an upbeat attitude.
Job searching is frustrating, hard, and can get downright depressing. Leave any negative thoughts you have about your prior company, a bad boss, or how unconfident you feel at home.  Hiring managers and interviewers want to hire optimistic, pleasurable people. Remember, they are watching to see if you would be a fit for their existing team and culture. Never say things off the record, as those comments are often controversial or negative. Smile, talk positively about everything and everybody, and express your excitement for the interview and the job.

Be succinct.
You’re nervous, unsure if you are saying the right answers. Under these circumstances, many candidates tend to ramble.  Instead, try to give three short talking points, and then stop. The interviewer will ask for more if she wants more. Giving terse answers makes you calmer and more confident.  Short answers allows the interviewer to take notes, digest your thoughts, and transition into the next question. Phone interviewers particularly appreciate your brevity.

Take phone interviews seriously.
Too often job candidates take a nonchalant approach with phone screens.  But you will not get the face-to-face interview if you don’t do well on the phone. Whether it is a recruiter or HR person on the other end of the line, you need to perform just as strongly as you would in a face-to-face interview.

Photo credit: LexisNexis

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