Let's face it. Interviewing for a job is one of the more stressful situations a person can go through. The greatest cause of that stress is the fear of the unknown. What will the interviewer ask? What should I say? Am I the person they are looking for? The best way to curb that fear is to prepare by removing some of the unknown variables. Here are a few techniques that you can put into play in advance of your interview.
Before the Interview:
- Research. The best way to be able to address how you will fit in and contribute to the company is to know where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Know what the company does, how well they do it, and who their competition is. The more you know, the more you can tailor your discussion of your experience to fit their needs.
Practice. No one performs well without first practicing. Musicians rehearse, actors rehearse, athletes practice and scrimmage. If they must do this in order to perfect their performance, why not you, the interviewee? Find a trusted friend, advisor, or colleague to help you rehearse the questions you'll likely be asked.
During the Interview:
- Handshake. This is much more important than many people think. This is part of that first impression which is said to be the lasting impression. Your handshake should be firm, not a "knuckle-buster," and brief - two to three pumps. Hands should meet with the web between your forefinger and thumb meeting the web of the other person's hand. The palm of your hand should be perpendicular to the floor. There is a subconscious message that your handshake conveys. If your palm is facing down, putting your hand on top of the other person's hand, you are sending a "dominance" signal. If your palm is up, putting your hand beneath the other's hand, you send a "submissive" signal. When the palms of both hands are perpendicular to the floor, you send an equality or "neutral" signal. This is the effect you want to achieve.
Mirror and match. This is a technique of using body language to build rapport with the interviewer. The simple idea is that you "mirror" the body posture of the person with whom you are talking. If he leans in, you lean in. If he sits back, you sit back. If he crosses his legs, you cross your legs. But be careful! Don't immediately move as he does--don't be obvious. Make a gradual, unobtrusive change to match his position. What this does is create, on a subconscious level of the interviewer's mind, the feeling that you are "the same" as he. Remember that people will hire people they like, or feel a rapport with, over another candidate with equal, or even greater "paper" qualifications. We all like people that are like us. (By the way, this works for dating as well! Watch two people mirroring each other at a bar some time.)
Paraphrase. When you get a question that is particularly difficult or maybe comes out of left field, reword it and ask it back to the interviewer. Say something like, "Are you asking if I..." or "Do you mean..." or "Just to be clear, do you want to know if..." What this does is give you a few seconds to gather your thoughts, and come up with the answer that will garner the best results. You'd be surprised at how little time it takes for your mind to process the question and produce an answer. These few seconds are often all you need.
These may seem like simple techniques, but they are effective. Use these techniques to ace your next interview!