After years of experience, interviewing potential employees for all levels of employment, I have noticed a few things that if I had the opportunity to debrief each candidate I would draw to his or her attention.
Present your very best self.
Most would think this should go with out saying, but it needs to be said, “First impressions can make or break an interview.” Show respect to your potential employer by dressing neatly, being groomed (hair washed, hands clean, fresh breath) and presenting your very best self. This includes eye contact, smiling and trying your best to appear confident but not cocky, relaxed but not casual and giving the impression immediately that you are someone they should consider.
Listen to the questions carefully.
Before you answer, make sure you have heard and understood the question correctly. Consider the key words in the question – take a note pad with you and try to write down the key words you hear. If you didn’t hear the question or you are not sure what was asked, then politely ask for the question to be repeated. Answer the question in a direct manner, give the important details, use a demonstration story (something that illustrates from your previous employment, volunteer work, etc that you have knowledge or experience related to the question) and then stop. Listening to the question and answering what was specifically asked will help you answer in a succinct but detailed manner.
Watch the people in the interview, they will give you clues as to whether your answers are too long – they stop writing things down, they are looking out the window or making eye contact with others in the room or appear not to be listening to you. Do not be thrown off by this but make your response to the next question a little more succinct.
Use examples from your experience.
Illustrate you have experience by preparing a few demonstration stories. These are examples from your work history that will demonstrate to the employer you have the knowledge, skills, qualification and most importantly the experience to do the job they are trying to fill. Do not discount your volunteer experience, there are lots of skills associated with what we do in our community and many companies are very pleased to hear that you are giving back.
Answer questions as if you already had the job.
Instead of using “if” use “as.” Not if I were the lab technician, but as the lab technician for this company I would . . . Let them see you in the role or the position already. Make them know that you are already thinking about the job and what you would do in the role. Make the job yours by speaking like you already work for them.
Before you even go into the interview, already have in mind the three things you want them to know about you related to the position. Those three things are the lasting impression you want to leave when the interview is over. Your job during the interview is to make sure you continue to connect those three things to the position. If you are provided with an opportunity to give a summary statement, your summary should be about those three things. When you are on the other side of the interview door and walking away you should be able to think with confidence, here are the three things they will remember about me related to this job.
A few more suggestions for that next interview. Prepare for a job interview like you would prepare to take a test; study and practice in order to do well. Anticipate the types of questions you might be asked and practice your answers out loud. Time your responses, check if you are too short or too long and listen and critique yourself. Write down some demonstration stories that you think will show them best what you have to offer. Decide the three things you want them to remember about you. Then present your very best self.