Great interviews arise from careful
groundwork. You can ace your next interview if you:
- Enter into a state of relaxed
concentration. This is the state from which great basketball players
or Olympic skaters operate. You'll need to quiet the negative self
chatter in your head through meditation or visualization prior to
sitting down in the meeting. You'll focus on the present moment and
will be less apt to experience lapses in concentration, nervousness,
self-doubt and self-condemnation.
- Act spontaneous, but be well
prepared. Be your authentic self, professional yet real. Engage in
true conversation with your interviewer, resting on the preparation
you did prior to coming to the meeting. Conduct several trial runs
with another person simulating the interview before it actually
occurs. It's the same as anticipating the questions you'll be asked on
a final exam.
- Set goals for the interview. It is
your job to leave the meeting feeling secure that the interviewer
knows as much as he or she possibly can about your skills, abilities,
experience and achievements. If you sense there are misconceptions,
clear them up before leaving. If the interviewer doesn't get around to
asking you important questions, pose them yourself (diplomatically)
and answer them. Don't leave the meeting without getting your own
questions answered so that you have a clear idea of what you would be
getting yourself into. If possible, try to get further interviews,
especially with other key players.
- Know the question behind the
question. Ultimately, every question boils down to, "Why should
we hire you?" Be sure you answer that completely. If there is a
question about your meeting deadlines, consider whether the
interviewer is probing delicately about your personal life, careful
not to ask you whether your family responsibilities will interfere
with your work. Find away to address fears if you sense they are
- Follow up with an effective
"thank you" letter. Don't write this letter lightly. It is
another opportunity to market yourself. Find some areas discussed in
the meeting and expand upon them in your letter. Writing a letter
after a meeting is a very minimum. Standing out among the other
candidates will occur if you thoughtfully consider this follow up
letter as an additional interview in which you get to do all the
talking. Propose useful ideas that demonstrate your added value to the
- Consider the interviewer's agenda.
Much is on the shoulders of the interviewer. He or she has the
responsibility of hiring the right candidate. Your ability to do the
job will need to be justified. "Are there additional pluses
here?" "Will this person fit the culture of this
organization?" These as well as other questions will be heavily
on the interviewer's mind. Find ways to demonstrate your qualities
above and beyond just doing the job.
- Expect to answer the question,
"Tell me about yourself." This is a pet question of prepared
and even unprepared interviewers. Everything you include should answer
the question, "Why should we hire you?" Carefully prepare
your answer to include examples of achievements from your work life
that closely match the elements of the job before you. Obviously,
you'll want to know as much about the job description as you can
before you respond to the question.
- Watch those nonverbal clues. Experts
estimate that words express only 30% to 35% of what people actually
communicate; facial expressions and body movements and actions convey
the rest. Make and keep eye contact. Walk and sit with a confident
air. Lean toward an interviewer to show interest and enthusiasm. Speak
with a well-modulated voice that supports appropriate excitement for
the opportunity before you.
- Be smart about money questions. Don't
fall into the trap of telling the interviewer your financial
expectations. You may be asking for too little or too much money and
in each case ruin your chances of being offered the job. Instead, ask
what salary range the job falls in. Attempt to postpone a money
discussion until you have a better understanding of the scope of
responsibilities of the job.
- Don't hang out your dirty laundry. Be
careful not to bare your soul and tell tales that are inappropriate or
beyond the scope of the interview. State your previous experience in
the most positive terms. Even if you disagreed with a former employer,
express your enthusiasm for earlier situations as much as you can.
Whenever you speak negatively about another person or situation in
which you were directly involved, you run the risk (early in the
relationship) of appearing like a troubled person who may have
difficulty working with others.