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
- 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 present.
- 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
- 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