Congratulations! You’ve scored an interview with a potential client, employee, company, etc. First was the application process, then the resume and showcasing your personality and skills, and now, the next step is to guarantee yourself a position by proving you’re the best candidate for the job.
When you’re walking into an interview, there are quite a few things you have to consider—from your outfit choice to your mindset, readiness to your ability to think under pressure—you must be prepared to handle whatever comes. It’s imperative that you not only appear confident and collected, but prove you’ve done research into the position, while not sounding rehearsed. Above all else, however, you want to sell yourself, your abilities, your experience, and your personality in a way that’s unique and relevant to you as an individual.
Here are a few tips for approaching the scenario with the perfect mix of eagerness, readiness, and personality you will need to secure the position.
1. Embody the position.
If you think you’re the perfect candidate for the job, then embody that belief. What this essentially means is to dress, act, think, and feel as if you already have the position.
Dress to impress.
When you’re considering what to wear to the interview, think about an outfit that is career/industry appropriate, while also showing who you are as a person. Wear something that is comfortable, but makes you feel empowered.
Speak with authority.
Enter the room (or answer the phone) with confidence. Limit the amount of pauses or filler words: ‘like,’ ‘um,’ etc. as much as possible. Pretend you’ve already been working this position for some time. Can you speak with authority on a subject related to the career? Can you answer questions in a way that shows you’ve not only done your research, but are knowledgeable enough on the subject that you can answer off-the-cuff?
Assess your body language.
Are you sitting upright? Are your hands fidgeting, or are they still? Are you making eye contact? How is your handshake—strong or flimsy? Consider what your body language says to the hiring manager about your ability to handle the position.
2. Show that you can solve a problem/fill a void.
As you prepare for or step into an interview, think about these two questions: How can I benefit the company? How is my work and expertise essential for this position? And as you think about the answers, shape your responses around your ability to be a solution.
Remember: your goal is to prove to the employer that you are a perfect fit.
Speak to your ability to solve problems the company may have, or accomplish goals that are otherwise impossible. Whenever you can, use specific examples, past or present. If you’re mentioning a prior position or experience, be brief, but share how something you did can fill a gap in the company you’re currently applying for.
3. Stay relevant.
Sometimes an interview can shift direction as different topics are brought up. As much as possible, try to stay relevant. If you’re sharing a story, be concise and only focus on what the employer needs to hear. Remember that you can always circle back and speak to a certain aspect later, or if the employer asks a follow up question.
4. Have an example for every positive description.
This is something I’ve found to be invaluable in editing a resume and preparing for interviews. Instead of saying “I am responsible,” give an example where you showed responsibility in a stressful situation. Instead of boasting that you are “detail-oriented,” explain how you approach projects or tasks. Giving these specifics will show the employer that you aren’t just using buzzwords, but have relevant examples to back and validate these claims.
5. Be prepared.
Do your background research before walking into the interview. Learn about the company so that if you are asked something specific, you aren’t stumped. Create a list of potential questions the hiring manager may ask, and practice your answers. Remember that you don’t want to memorize these answers, but feel comfortable enough answering them that you don’t have to stress during the actual interview.
6. Play the positive angle.
Whenever possible, shift the focus to positive. If a negative scenario from your past surfaces, are you able to spin it to show how you’ve grown or changed? Can you speak to the ways that event/moment has shaped your perspective and made you into a better person? Can you explain your reasons for leaving a prior position/company were about seeking new opportunities or challenges, rather than saying anything negative about where you were?
This shift in focus will make you look more attractive to a hiring manager.
7. Focus on your strengths.
Regardless of the interview direction, keep bringing the focus back to what makes you stand out as a candidate.
Remember those earlier questions: How can I benefit the company? How is my work and expertise essential for this position? Answer these and speak to your strengths, abilities, and best attributes. Don’t just talk about awards or recognition, but what makes you proud. Also remember to speak to your ability to not only work independently, but with a team, as this is important as well.
Featured Image Credit: Tim Gouw