You might have had a few, maybe several, interviews. But so far… no offers.
That could mean the competition was significantly more qualified than you were. Or that you must improve how you interview.
Or it could mean it’s time to audit your job interview performance.
Because the alternative is to keep making the same mistakes, missing the opportunity to improve performance, and missing the cut when it comes to job offers.
Essentially, there are 5 major areas to think about when performing an audit of your job interview skills:
Properly preparing for an interview falls into at least 4 categories:
First is the research you did on the company, ranging from its product lines and financials to the corporate culture and its longer-term goals. Had you gone beyond the website? Social media channels? What is the competition up to?
Second is how ready you are to use what you found during the research phase. Were you ready to ready to respond to their questions and make intelligent comments? What questions did you ask of them? How well did you articulate how your skills aligned with the person they need?
Next is the need to do a dry run to prevent lateness. This may sound obvious, but you will be surprised how often it can happen. Not only is tardiness held against you, it throws off your equilibrium on the interview. Were you you unable to perform at your best?
Last is the ability to demonstrate that you had the emotional intelligence (EI) to mirror the culture. That ranges from dress to language. In lean organizations those soft skills have become a must. There’s no place to hide. And everyone has to work together. Honestly: did you fit in?
2) Body Language
When it comes to non-verbal communication, an infinite number of things could be off. Did you break eye contact? Do you think your answers were evasive? Do you smile too much? Did that mark you as lacking self-confidence?
Some of this may result from nervousness, which is normal. However, more likely they are learned mannerisms that you should be aware of and make a conscious effort to decrease.
That’s why it could be a worthwhile investment of time to simulate interviews and video-tape them. Watch yourself in action. Better yet, have those you trust give you constructive criticism. What habits must you break to communicate clearly when not speaking?
3) Interview Give and Take
A fundamental of all human interaction is that person with the most power determines the rules. Of course, the interviewer has that power edge and you should follow the lead. But within that deferential position there are many dicey decisions to make.
For example, you have to demonstrate leadership. How do you do that effectively without alienating the person in the company who’s interviewing you? How do you frame your comments without coming across as arrogant or critical? In these scenarios it is best to ask questions in a consultative manner versus direct what should happen, when you truly have limited information.
Again, the smart move could be filming your simulated interviews and having your approaches critiqued. In that way you might finger that you “preach” about technology versus engaging in a conversation. Otherwise, the companies you are interviewing with may perceive as brilliant, but too difficult to work with.
4) Tough Questions
Difficult questions during interviewing have become fairly standard. The work environment is chaotic. So, the company wants to test out how you handle stress. It also needs to check out how fast-thinking you can be. And, of course, by throwing you off your game, the interviewers can shake loose information from you that might not be available anywhere else.
How ready are you to answer the tough questions?
For example, let’s say you had been among the 7,000 laid off last year by Corporation X. This company wants to know why you were selected for lay-off… and 40,000 others weren’t. You must have a persuasive and confident, but truthful, answer.
Additionally, there also are questions from left field you will have no way of anticipating. You are ushered into the design lab for auto dashboards. They want you to explain what you would do to reduce the cost by a third. For these types of questions, you are being assessed for your ability to think on your feet and that is the best way to approach these types of questions. The responses you give count for as much as half your grade on that interview!
Therefore it’s critical that you are totally “in the now” when these curve balls comes your way. If you are preoccupied with how you’re doing on the interview and not what you’re actually doing, your performance could be substandard.
For this very reason Silicon Valley is among the work environments exploring methods how to be in the present. One is mindfulness. Another is regular exercise. A third is learning how to reduce the kind of stress which distracts you. Engaging in these practices before the interview can help you on the interview.
5) Follow Up
A job offer can be yours to lose. And you could lose it during the follow-up period.
Many candidates do well on the interview and fail to follow-up, failing to realize that for some companies, following-up well is part of the process. How bad do you want the job? Here is the place to demonstrate it.
The best explicitly single out what the applicants learned about the company during the interview and how that increased their enthusiasm. You sent the note snail mail instead of email. It never reached the executive’s desk. You pulled a gimmick such as sending a pizza to everyone in the loop in the process. They didn’t think that was clever – or appropriate. You called every few days to see how the process was going. Your name became the office joke. You’re a stalker.
Post-interview, even if you sense it has gone well, don’t stop or slow down your search. It has happened that applicants who never let up on the hunt wind up with multiple offers.
Whether you are unemployed and “need” a job or you are exploring a better deal or fit, your immediate objective is to land interviews. It’s only by practice, practice, practice that you gain the experience you need to get an offer. Since the marketplace for talent is continually changing, what you learned about interviewing a few years ago could be out-of-date today.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Chameleon Resumes!
About the Author: Lisa Rangel, founder and managing director of Chameleon Resumes, a Forbes Top 100 Career Website, has helped hundreds land the exact job they wanted. A former recruiter, she is a 7-time certified resume writer, job search consultant, and one of the few resume writers performing resume and job search-related work for LinkedIn. Lisa has been featured on Forbes, LinkedIn, Investors Business Daily, and many more publications. Follow Lisa on Twitter!