Part 2 in a 2 Part Series on Interviewing Preparations and Strategy
Welcome Back! In our previous post, we talked about ways to prepare for your interview. Now that you’ve done your homework, practiced your pitch, you know where you’re going, and you’re looking sharp, it’s finally time to interview. Read on for some helpful insights to successful interviewing.
First Impression: First things first…there is a chance that your first impression might take place BEFORE you officially meet your interviewer, so be mindful of your actions and body language at all times. You never know who is watching you approach the building, so it’s best to avoid barbaric behaviors such as spitting on the pavement in the presence of your potential new employer. And be polite to everyone you encounter from the minute you open the door. The receptionist just may be given the opportunity to share his/her impressions of you with the hiring manager.
Greeting: Greet your interviewer with an introduction, smile, strong handshake and good eye-contact. Be prepared for some small talk, yet pay attention to social cues, let the hiring manager guide you, and be ready to start the interview when the time comes.
Body Language: Your interviewer is not only assessing what you are saying but also how you are saying it. Make regular eye-contact and convey alertness, engagement, and interest. Sit up straight, lean in, and avoid appearing too relaxed by lounging in the chair or slouching. Be sure to smile, be expressive, and express warmth. Finally, avoid crossing your arms, which may make you appear defensive, cold or closed off.
Listening: Among the most crucial elements to a successful interview is active listening. In fact, many argue that you should listen more than you speak, as people tend to gravitate more to those who listen to them. By carefully listening to the hiring manager, you will gain a better understanding of their needs or challenges, and in turn be able to formulate more clear and concise answers directly addressing these points. Moreover, you’ll be in a better position to ask targeted follow up questions and make the interview more conversational.
Speaking: As important as it is to listen attentively, it’s equally critical to speak thoughtfully, clearly, and concisely. You may be given only 30 minutes for the entire interview, so answering questions directly is crucial. Keep in mind that it’s completely OK to pause and gather your thoughts…the interviewer would much prefer a direct and to-the-point answer over a long-winded pointless ramble.
Take Notes: Remember to bring a notebook and pen with you to the interview. You may want have notes jotted down beforehand to help remind you of talking points or you may find that you want to take notes during the interview.
Q&A: More than likely, the interviewer will offer you a chance to ask questions. Since you’ll be put on the spot, you won’t want to come up empty handed where questions are concerned. This is a perfect time to turn the table and ask questions to help determine if this role is a good fit for you from your perspective. Be inquisitive, open-minded and curious. Ask thoughtful questions that let the interviewer know you are genuinely interested in the job and company.
Here are some great questions to ask, when given the opportunity:
- What do you think makes someone successful in this position (or company)?
- What do you like most about working here?
- What do you see as being the most challenging aspect of the job?
- What do you think is the most rewarding aspect of this job?
- Will there be opportunities for advancement in the future? What does the career progression look like at the company?
- Are there career development/training opportunities?
- How will my performance be measured?
- How would you describe the company culture?
- What does the typical day to day look like?
- What do you foresee the next 6-12 months looking like?
- Where do you see the company in the next 5 years?
- What are the next steps?
- Do you have a timeline for making a decision?
Leaving a Good Impression: Upon leaving, be sure to thank the interviewer for their time, convey your interest in the role, offer a strong hand-shake and exit confidently, yet unassumingly. Finally, if they have offered you their contact information or given you a business card, follow up with a brief thank-you email or send a short hand-written thank-you note. You never know, what might give you the edge over your competition.
At the end of the day, remember that an interview is a two-way conversation and not simply an interrogation. It’s OK to be nervous but we’re convinced that if you adequately prepare, you’ll feel much more at ease and will be able to let your personality truly shine. And you know what? Your interviewer may just be a little nervous too. Good luck; we’re rooting for you!
Check out Part 1 of this blog for some helpful hints on successfully preparing for the interview.