Being invited for an interview is the beginning of a new opportunity, the potential to make a good impression and receive an offer. With the anticipation of a meeting also comes the reality of convincing the interviewer that you are the right candidate for the job.
Most know that an interview is often a performance in how well you present your information and build rapport, yet not everyone prepares ahead of time. Some candidates wing their answers, basing their interview performance with their success in past interviews.
Acing an interview in the past is different today because the interviewers are not the same and the employer’s needs have evolved. Coming in with five basic strategies beforehand will generate more interest and make you the most desirable candidate throughout your career.
As a job candidate, you have two goals you must address during your interview – emphasize your contributions and share information needed for the interviewer to make the right decision.
The following five strategies will help you impress the interviewer and accomplish the goals.
- Conduct research ahead of time. It will boost your confidence and sense of control by developing knowledge about the company. The time you spend researching using online profiles and talking with your network will pay off when answering questions about your skill sets. One tool you can use is a comparison sheet, where you match your skills to the employer’s core competencies or critical skills mentioned in the job description.
- Listen to the questions. When the interview jitters hit, the first area affected is your listening skill. It is difficult to focus on questions asked when your energy is sent to how nervous you feel. It is OK to clarify a question you do not understand, but the fear of embarrassment keeps most candidates guessing, setting the stage for misunderstandings. Make sure you are on the same page as the interviewer by paraphrasing the question and giving an example of how you used specific skills to address the employer’s needs. Answering a different question than the one asked sends a message that you lack understanding.
- Choose your answers carefully. Candidates often assume the interviewer has thoroughly read their resume. With tight schedules, managers frequently do not have the time to read every accomplishment and ask seemingly redundant questions about your skills, obviously stated on your resume. Some decision-makers want to hear you talk about your resume and expand on your experience. It is your responsibility to make sure the interviewer understands your background clearly and how your skills relate to their needs.
- Take short notes. When discussions are flowing, it can be challenging to remember everything mentioned. Taking notes accomplishes two points – it sends a message that you care and helps you when following up with the interviewer. The key is not to capture the details during your note; instead, focus on the highlights. Taking notes should not be a distraction in the dialogue rather a way to show your professionalism in genuinely being interested in the interview.
- Ask open-ended questions. Interviewers often judge candidates by the questions they ask during the interview. Questions serve a dual purpose, as they help you determine if you want to work for the employer and increase your understanding of what the employer expects. Open-ended questions send a powerful message that you care about the employer’s needs and are genuinely interested in the position.
Using these five strategies will help you impress interviewers throughout your career and increase your chances of standing out from the competition. All of them require some effort and time, but the payoff in landing the job is worth it.
How did you make a good impression with the interview and land an offer? As a hiring decision-maker, what kinds of candidates impress you the most?