Does the idea of interviewing for a new job put you on edge or scare the living daylights out of you? Does it make you want to stay under the duvet and hide?
You’re not alone. There’s a lot riding on landing that job whether you’re currently unemployed or not, particularly in the current climate. Here are 9 ways to give a naturally confident interview that really allows you to shine.
1. Don’t Over-Prepare
You certainly need to know your stuff before heading into that interview room, but whatever you do, don’t over-prepare. You need to know your onions (so to speak) as well as having some knowledge about the company’s products, services, market position, opportunities, etc, but preparing answers for every possible question and memorising every fact will drive you crazy and make you ultra-nervous.
Knowing your subject isn’t a case of simply repeating information verbatim, and if you go to an interview planning on spouting facts and figures there’s a risk that you’ll sound too rehearsed or stilted.
Interviewers want to see how well you think on your feet as well as how knowledgeable you are, so leave room to move. You don’t have to be word perfect, you don’t need to know everything or have a slick answer for every question. Trust yourself to shoot from the hip.
2. Don’t sweat it
Focusing on the things that make you nervous will only ever give you more drama, and that’s exactly what you don’t need.
Yes, interviews can be nerve-wracking, but it’s okay to be nervous. If you weren’t nervous it would mean you didn’t care, so how about finding a better way for you to care about this? How about directing that energy in a more useful way to up your game? How about using that nervous energy to demonstrate your enthusiasm and energy?
Remember, the simple fact that you’ve been invited to interview means that they’re interested in talking to you and think you might be right for the job. That’s a good thing, right?
What difference would it make if you knew that whatever decision they make is just fine, that no matter what happens it’s no reflection on you or your ability? Shifting how you perceive the risks of the interview can feel pretty liberating, allowing you to shine.
3. Blow Your Own Trumpet
You have to blow your own trumpet to show how much you can add to an organization. Fail to do that effectively and it’s game over.
So get clear on what your strengths are – the skills, talents and experience you’ve applied in the past to get great results. Get clear on what you’ve achieved and your role in those achievements. Get clear on how capable you are, and how you want to continue to develop your capability.
That’s the information and evidence they’re looking for.
4. Don’t jump into the first chair you see.
Don’t rush into the room and grab the first chair you see – it’s not a competition. Let the interviewer find their place first. If you’re in a meeting room don’t sit next to them on the same side of the table, and don’t automatically sit directly opposite them. If you can, try to sit diagonally from them – it provides a good space between you but doesn’t act like a wall.
5. Don’t go in just 1 direction
Go down a single track during your interview and talk about one area of skill or experience and it could easily leave a big enough gap in the interviewers’ mind to wonder if you’re the best candidate. Show a range of skills and experience, and show that you can get on with people as well as tasks.
But going in 1 direction isn’t only about what skills and experience you choose to show and tell, it’s about what you need from the interviewer.
An interview has to be a 2-way street to avoid miscalculations of culture and fit. It’s a process to see how well you fit in the role and the organization, and if the role and organisation is a good fit for you. It’s not simply about the interviewer pulling out the information they need to make their decisions, you need to get the information you need to make your decision.
I’ve interviewed a good number of people in my past, and there was always one thing that made a candidate stand out head and shoulders above the rest – the fact that they were enjoying themselves, not just in the interview but generally in their life.
An interviewer doesn’t want a one-dimensional person, and often the personality of the candidate can override any weakness in skill or experience.
So don’t think that you can’t enjoy an interview. If you look like the interview is torture or if you’re just generally down-beat, you won’t get hired. Simple as. If you’re enjoying and engaging with what you’re doing and where you are, it speaks volumes.
Smile. (Just not too much that you look like a grinning maniac).
7. Leave your stuff outside
Carrying any uncertainty, doubt or problems into the interview with you will limit your ability to interview well, so put that all to one side before you start. Picture the interview room as a safe place with people who want you to get the job, and remember that the interviewer wants to see the best of you, not the worst. They’re on your side.
8. Don’t let your body talk for you
If your shoulders are hunched, you’re slouched in your seat, you’re wringing your hands, continually scratching your head or if your eyes are darting around the room then your body language will be screaming “Danger!” loud and clear.
Having a relaxed but confident body language communicates a relaxed and confident individual. You’re free to move in your seat and use your hands to demonstrate key points, just watch you’re not waving your arms around like you’re swiping away fruit flies.
Remember eye contact too – it’s about building rapport and connecting with people. Without eye contact there’s no connection, so be sure to look your interviewers in the eye as the interview progresses. Like everything, there’s a balance to be struck, so don’t stare fixedly at your interviewer like a wired Will Ferrell, this isn’t a Saturday Night Live skit.
9. Embellish and polish
There’s a saying that suggests that an interview is 2 people in a room lying to each other. Some interviews might be like that, but not the ones that end up with a great deal for everyone. Don’t lie. It’s like dressing a cow in a duck costume and asking it to quack – it’s not going to fool anyone.
But while you shouldn’t lie there’s nothing wrong with a little polish or embellishment. Tell them how proud you were of a team achievement. Don’t cover up a weakness or failing but spin it into an important lesson learned. Show them how darn excited you were to get involved in a particular project.
This doesn’t mean that you’re misrepresenting yourself, it simply means that you’re selling yourself and giving a great interview.