Build Interviewing Skills to Nail Down That Dream Job
It doesn’t matter if you just graduated from school, or have been in the workplace for a while and are looking for a change. At some point, you’re going to have to strengthen your interviewing skills in order to land that job you want. Especially in today’s super-competitive world.
Before anything else, you need to objectively look at the reasons you’re applying for a job. People almost never have just one reason, but you need to clarify the major cause of your search. Is the new job just a better paycheck, an escape from your current job, or a great opportunity to utilize your skills and make a difference? Is it another step on your career path, or your dream job?
In order to land your ideal position, you need to go beyond the minimal investment of time and effort and reach for new levels of personal insight and interview preparation.
Here are five things to consider when honing your interviewing skills:
- Think about what happens if you get the job
How does the position fit into your career plans? Why THIS job with THIS employer? And why would it make sense for the employer to hire you in the first place? You’re going to have to dig a little deeper inside yourself more than just saying, “It’s a great place to work” or “I really need this paycheck to pay bills (or student loans).”
If you’re an older worker who has been in the workforce for a few years, what is the story of your career to date? What’s the common denominator between past jobs and this new one? This is what your interviewer needs to understand.
- Use the employer’s products or services
If possible, use the employer’s product. At some point, the interviewer will ask what you know about the product or service they provide, and you need to be coherent in your answer. You can then say something like, “I’ve used your company’s products and was really impressed with them because ….” or “I’d love to be involved with your company because you have such positive business values.” While this alone won’t get you the job, not knowing or having an answer will almost certainly lose it for you.
- Anticipate questions and practice your answers out loud
Every job interview site or blog preps you for the two biggies you’ll get asked: “Tell me about yourself,” and “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” questions. And, if you haven’t figured those out yet, stop reading this now and go work those two out. I’m not sure if there’s been a single job interview done in the last 15 years that didn’t ask those two questions!
Beyond that, be prepared to discuss anything that appears on your resume. Think about it … if it’s important enough for you to put it on your #1 tool for finding a new job, you should be able to recite the circumstances surrounding that bullet point at a moment’s notice. And … practice, practice, practice! Have a spouse, partner or friend toss you one question after another. And if you don’t have someone to work with you, practice your answers standing in front of a mirror looking yourself in the eye.
Occasionally, a new manager without experience interviews you and won’t be paying attention to your body language. However, most managers have had training on conducting interviews. And, HR personnel are generally masters at reading the vibes you give off. If you slouch … avoid eye contact … or keep your arms crossed in front of you, the interviewer will probably conclude that you’re not a serious candidate and you’ll lose out. There are plenty of articles about proper body language online, so find one you like and study up.
- Silence is good … take a moment to think about your answers
The easiest thing to do when you’re nervous is to speak without thinking. And, it can be your biggest mistake. It is perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to think before you answer a question. When you do finally talk, remember to speak clearly without whispering or shouting.
It is perfectly acceptable to ask the interviewer for clarification on any question. Make sure you’re 100 percent certain what a question is asking. And, rather than go on with a long answer to a question, stop after a few sentences. Ask if this is the direction the interviewer is intending that you take.
These are just a few of the most important parts to sharpening your interviewing skills. If you do nothing else, make sure to get these five down pat. Afterwards, walk into your interview with a solid understanding of yourself and how you can help meet the employer’s needs. Chances are you’ll get a good phone call back soon afterwards.