In a world where the building of relationships is vital to every element of our professional success, what does it take to get to win a job interview?
That’s not to say that you don’t need some basic skills and/or experience for most jobs – but usually by the time you get to the interview, you’ve been screened for that at least to some extent. But before you can get to any of that, there has to be a feeling that you would be a match for the company as well as the particular department interviewing you.
And that feeling can be summed up in the word: “chemistry”.
And it’s a two-way street. Not only is the employer trying to decide if you would be a fit for them, but you have to figure out whether you think the job would be right for you. You can get a lot of cues about the way a place operates and how you might be treated from the interview.
Here’s how you can develop instant chemistry with the person conducting your job interview:
Just Like a Blind Date…
The first few minutes of an interview tells you, and the employer, a lot. It’s a time to make the best impression possible and also watch for cues.
Bosses are looking for people who show appropriate enthusiasm and a positive attitude. If you walk in with your head low and don’t even look the interviewer in the eye, this is a big turn off. Sure you’re nervous – that’s okay – but make an effort to come in looking like someone who at least believes they deserve the job. A firm (not painful) handshake and a warm smile always helps.
Before you go into the room, stop, take a few deep breaths, and try your best to relax.
Be Your Natural Self
When I interview candidates, I want to put them in the position of being as natural as possible. Not that I’m telling you to take off your shoes and put your feet up on the desk (always a bad idea), but I need to see the real person behind the stiff, nervous interviewee so I’ll know if there really is chemistry.
By the way…it’s okay to say you’re a little nervous if that helps you relax. You’ll see right away what kind of person you’re dealing with. If they smile, that’s a good sign. If they are turned off by your honesty, then that might reflect something about the company and whether you’d be comfortable working there. Of course it’s not always that simple, so no matter what the reaction, take a breath, ramp up your attitude, and keep your best interview energy going. Still…watch those cues.
If you’re really nervous about being interviewed, it really does help to practice a LOT with a friend or in a mirror ahead of time.
I remember one time when I was asked to work with a woman who was incredibly nervous despite her excellent skills, and after about three separate sessions where I gave her some tough interviews and helped her know where she could be a little stronger (including that first impression) she got the job! I was thrilled for her.
To Think Ahead, Think Back
Before the interview, think of a few things that you’ve done in other jobs where you succeeded or helped improve the way things are done. If you prepare these stories ahead of time, you’ll have them ready to use at the right moment in the interview.
Also, think of your best qualities (and worst) in case you are asked to talk about them. Chances are, you will need to articulate these characteristics, so know what you want to say ahead of time.
Bring Your Own Questions
Yes, career experts say this all the time… yet few candidates are ready for this critical aspect of the interview!
Come prepared with some good questions that show you know something about the company or have really thought through the job itself and want to know more about what would be required.
Stay in the moment, as they say in zen philosophy. Don’t start thinking about other stuff during the interview – like what they might ask or what you are or aren’t. Just shake off all those other thoughts and from the second you enter the room, face each moment as it comes.
Throughout the interview, show good energy (look alert and no slouching) and have a positive attitude!
Know You Deserve This
Really let yourself believe that you deserve this job… and can do it well.
Most of the jobs I’ve held are jobs I had never done before. Don’t let yourself think that you don’t have what it takes even if you don’t have all the specific experience. If you have a brain and the determination to dig in and get the job done no matter what it takes, then you deserve to be in the interview!
If the interviewer actually says you don’t have the exact experience, your answer should somehow convey that there have been other times when you’ve been in a situation like that and you dug in, learned what you had to, and did the job well. Maybe you even became the expert after that. Be prepared with a specific example!
Co-manage the Interview
If the interview feels like it’s going badly, make a note of the cues you are observing and try to adjust. Is the interviewer looking bored? Don’t give up. Try to liven things up. Maybe try to fit in some of the really good things about yourself you prepared.
Also, be sure to keep your answers clear and on topic. Look your interviewer in the eye when speaking and try to speak as if you were talking to a friend you like and respect. Just make sure you are talking about what they asked you.
Don’t Confuse Chemistry With Personality
You can be shy and still come off as a good employee who cares about producing top quality work. Good work habits and a feeling that you would not only be someone who comes through no matter what the challenge, but also great to work with on a daily basis go a long way in any interview.
In the end, the job interview is all about the right match; the chemistry between you and the recruiter or hiring manager. Do your best to build that chemistry, and you’ll win the interview.
And remember, just like that blind date: each interview is just practice for the right job – one where all the elements are in balance. Put yourself out there, keep your great attitude, deliver your best interview skills – and don’t give up until you find the right match for you!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Work Coach Cafe!
About the Author: Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, Career Nook and on Google+.