This is the second post about how to nail that job interview. In the first post we went through the preparations and in this post I will go through how to control the interview day to make sure you leave with a smile on your face, having sold yourself like a successful ice cream parlour in Alaska!
Psychology, strategy, structure and preparation is how to do it and below are the steps to take to make sure you get the offer together with a nice fat salary!
You are here for one reason only and that is to walk home with 100% certainty of getting that offer! It doesn’t matter whether you want it in the end or not but you want to be the one making that decision so 100% focus, preparation and confidence is key to your success.
First thing to remember for your interview day is to have plenty of time so that you arrive well a head (15-30 minutes) of your appointment. You don’t want to arrive feeling completely stressed and sweaty. Before entering the building, stand tall and put a smile on your face, then walk straight to the reception and sign in. Try to be a bit chatty with the person working in the reception to get a feeling for the atmosphere and the culture. Pay attention to the design and how people dress at work. The staff working at the reception usually know a lot about what is going on so use your best charm, chat away and hopefully you will gain some great insights about the company which you can then use during your interview to show that you have done your homework about the company.
Ask for the bathroom and go there to make sure you look your very best. If you have arrived realizing you are way overdressed (suit and tie and everyone you see is wearing shorts and t-shirt), try adapting! Overdressing is easy to fix, the opposite is a bigger challenge… If you have overdressed, remove your tie, open an extra button on your shirt and maybe remove your jacket and throw it over your shoulder and even roll up your sleeves if you feel you need to. It’s always better to be overdressed than the other way around. They will understand you want to make a good impression so better to dress for success than not.
Whilst in the bathroom, look at yourself in the mirror and boost yourself with some inspiring self-talk like saying with confidence and conviction “I am going to nail this interview!” fifteen times (no I’m not joking!!). Do whatever you feel is best to boost your confidence as it will shine through when meeting the person interviewing you and you want to both look and feel very confident (but not arrogant!).
When you feel top-notch, take a seat and read any relevant material (brochures) about the company and keep a smile on your face. Learn more about the company and show confidence, easy and keep a happy and open posture. This means you should NOT use your phone for random surfing, it should be in flight mode! If there is nothing to read and no one to chat with, go through your answers and the things you want to make sure they remember about you.
You should already have looked up information about the person interviewing you and hopefully you have also seen a picture so that when he or she arrives, you recognize them. By recognizing and being fast on your feet, you are showing you are eager, in control and know who they are (they feel important which is a great start). Make sure you show them your biggest smile, look the person in they eyes and hold out your hand for a friendly but confident handshake (you have to practice this until all your friends and family agree you are a natural!).
You never get a second chance to make a first impression and the first few minutes (or even seconds!) are crucial according to numerous studies as well as my own experience and rarely do we change our opinion (at least not in the short-term). Make sure you have read my post on a powerful body language before your interview day to understand the importance of it and how to use it to your advantage.
If you have been shown to a meeting room, I would recommend you not to sit down. Walk around a bit to relax, look out through the window with a gaze of a winner and make sure you feel like on! By doing this you are becoming more comfortable and relaxed compared to if you were just sitting down by a table waiting.
By standing up, you will also be able to greet the person a lot faster than if you were to sit down. My personal feeling when doing this is that I’m the one in charge of the meeting, since I’m greeting the person who just arrived. By just sitting down it feels like I’m waiting for my boss to arrive and instead I want the power game to be tilted to my advantage. Again, anything you can do or say to yourself to boost your confidence prior to an interview is great. The person interviewing can immediately tell if you are nervous and your answers to their questions will not be as good as when you are relaxed and comfortable. Personally I would not serve myself coffee or tea before the interviewer has arrived as I want to mimic what they do to create a connection and rapport. I would also try being the one serving the coffee to make the interviewer feel good. If I feel a bit uneasy, maybe I help myself to a glass of water whilst waiting.
When the interviewer arrives, I would greet them the same way as if meeting them in the reception area. This means I will greet them with my biggest smile whilst looking the person in they eyes and holding out my hand for a friendly but confident handshake. If possible (and true), I would praise them on their nice offices, views or whatever else I can do to have a pleasant start before we get going with the interview. This is when you have to show your most charming and pleasing personality!
If the time and place is right for a small and friendly joke and you are 100% sure it will work, then go for it. Starting with a laugh is a great way to connect and ease any tension between you and the person interviewing. The more you know about the person or how fast you can asses any common denominators you might have, the easier it is to joke about something. The key thing is to get a friendly smile and ideally a laugh early on as then your interview is more or less guaranteed to flow with ease.
Remember that you only get one chance to make a first impression, ALWAYS make sure you do your best regardless of where you are and who you are introducing yourself to. You never know when you might come across that person again so try practicing your charming personality at any and every chance you get!
When you sit down and just before the interview starts, say something like the following (just copy): “Before we start, I would be curious to know what it was in my application that caught your attention?”
By doing this, you make the interviewer think about why they really liked your profile, what your strengths are and why they think you are a good fit for the company and the role. This is perfect as they have now reminded themselves about all the good stuff and that is before you have even told them anything, they did the work for you! This will also give you a boost of confidence which will serve you during the interview as well as an idea of the areas of importance to them.
Listen very carefully to everything the interviewer says and memorize the exact words the interviewer is using. Show that you are paying full attention and are very interested in listening to what they are saying. Use all the information you get to your advantage and in particular when it comes to the language and vocabulary used. You should try to use some of the interviewer’s words (mimicking) in some of your answers but not so frequently that it seems awkward. This will strengthen the picture they already have drawn up in their mind of who you are and why your are suitable for the job and they will almost subconsciously like you even more as the fit will seem perfect!
Another very important question to ask early on is for the interviewer to tell you a bit more about the job, the tasks as well as the team. Say that you would like to know this as it will allow you to better answer any questions they might have as well as give relevant examples to the job. They will appreciate your interest and it makes perfect sense for them and you to answer with relevance for the job (use this information to your advantage consistently during the interview process). Remember that the more accurate information you have at hand, the easier it will be for you to answer any questions in a perfect way which matches their idea of the ideal candidate (yes, you!).
Using the vocabulary and body language of the person interviewing you in a smart and fluent way creates credibility, comfort and rapport. Who doesn’t like a person who behaves and talks like one self?! Just think about how you speak with your friends, what you like to do, what places you like to go to, how you live etc… Many similarities, I bet! If you can do this in a discrete way, they will love you even more and the whole interview will not even feel like an interview but more like having a coffee with a great new friend and that is what we all want. Have great friends and have a great conversation over a coffee!
Not only should you add the vocabulary of the interviewer but the lingo used in the business and on the company website and their job description. By using a language they are familiar with (and you after your preparation) it again shows that you are well up to date with the business and the company and that you really are one of them. You speak the same language and you look the part!
Use what you have learned
Any and all of the questions you get or even ask, you want to answer with reference to an earlier discussion, their website, a friend who works or used to work there etc. Whenever you can, anchor your answer or comment to hammer home another clear point as to why you should get the job (you already know most of the stuff to be part of the team and company). This gives you more credibility and if you also use the interviewer’s own words and ways of explanation of what/whom they are looking for, you will for sure hit home. Make sure to use the interviewer’s name at least a handful of times during the interview (in a normal fashion). We all love to hear our own names as it makes us feel good about ourselves.
An example would be: “Like you just said “Robert”, this is one of my key qualities (or skills) so let me tell you about a short work related experience to put some color on what I mean”. Then you just use one of the rehearsed stories to strengthen your case, using his and the company’s terminology to maximize the impact of your story.
The more you can speak and behave like a natural in that business (and aligned with the interviewer), the more capable and professional impression you will get across so make sure you use any resource you have or can find to get that extra bit of information which will impress them.
Ask relevant questions
Quite early on you should make sure to ask the following question “What is it that you like about working here Robert?” This is a very open question and if you have made a good initial impression, you will get a very honest answer. This answer you can again use to your advantage as you now know what they really like about the company, culture, team and work tasks and why. Again make sure that any of your answers hits home at this point by making it clear that you enjoy the same things (only if you honestly do but if you don’t, at least you know this position might not be for you but don’t let them know now!).
Make sure you ask relevant questions showing that you have done your homework. Avoid questions about things you should have looked up in advance! Show them that you are interested and know more than they think to make a point of the fact that you have really prepared and that you are suited for this job.
For example: If you have applied for a job selling car insurances, don’t ask things like “What is a car insurance?” or “How does a car insurance work?” or “Which customer would by a car insurance?”. These are all questions you either should know or you could have found out beforehand. Don’t waste their time as it will not make you look professional nor knowledgeable.
Instead you could ask something along these lines (fyi, I have no experience from working in this industry): “Robert, what type of customers do you find the most interesting at the moment and why?” or “In which area of car insurances do you see the greatest potential?” or “What makes a great car insurance sales person based on your experience?”. These questions are more specific and you are showing that you are interested in the business and how you can add value to the company. When you get the answer of your question, you will comment on how your skills would be valuable in that situation or why you are so good dealing with that type of clients etc.
Open questions are generally better because the more information you get, the more you can use it to your advantage. So if you ask “how many car insurances does the team sell in a week”, the interviewer (if they know this, otherwise it could be a bit awkward…) might say around 200 and nothing else. Whilst if you ask which area is growing the most and why, the answer will be longer and give you more ammunition as to how you should phrase your answers.
Smart and relevant questions show interest and knowledge and that will impress any interviewer (as long as one don’t start asking absurd or extremely intricate questions).
Make sure you tell them your stories!
This is your interview day and with all your preparations it now comes down to this hour of an interview (first one). It is therefore instrumental that you know which are your absolute must tell stories that you wish to share with the interviewer. They should be extremely well prepared and so should the phrasing so that it flows naturally and is told with confidence and ease to show your true character. So through these stories you just have to try and include as much relevant information as possible from what you have learned during the interview in order to strengthen your arguments and make it even more obvious that you are the one.
This whole interview is about you selling yourself and your competences. All your preparations and the things you wanted to say to really make a positive impact have to come out effortlessly and adequately when suitable. An interview can fly fast if you are not ready so make sure that you take any opportunity to include your rehearsed stories, qualifications and skills during the interview, otherwise they might never be told.
I therefore recommend that you go through the whole interview day beforehand, both on your own and together with a friend, because the more you have prepared, the easier it will be to make sure you get it all out.
YES! The worst thing ever is saying no to this one. If you are really interested in the job, you want to know more. If you say no, what does that say about you??!?!?! How keen are you really?
If you have already asked loads of questions then it might be ok with saying something like “I have already asked quite a few questions and I don’t want to take up any more of your time at this point “Robert” but I really do hope I get the opportunity to learn more first hand. I have enjoyed our conversation (don’t use the word interview, as you should feel like friends now!) and I’m really excited about starting to work here (showing confidence) and based on what you have told me I really feel I would be a good fit and able to add a lot of value to the team and the company”.
I would only say this if the interview has turned out very good and pleasant and I feel that there is a good fit.
If there are some of your important questions you have not yet asked, do that now as discussed previously in this post but not just any random question as you don’t want to waste the interviewer’s time!
Smile, touch and genuinely show how glad you are to have met and had the opportunity to discuss this job with the interviewer. You should also make sure that you have answered any and all of the questions the interviewer might have so there is nothing left in the air. If there is anything additionally they would like to follow up on, you are just a call or an email away.
Thank the interviewer for their time and tell them that you wish them a great day and that you hope to hear from them soon. If you are very confident and have other discussions going on with other potential employers, let them know that you are in demand but that you would really like to start working with them as it sounds like a great fit. This puts some pressure on them to get back to you relatively quickly and shows that you have a value in the market place (anything that has a “time limit” or limit in numbers we tend to value higher, so use that to your advantage).
Walk tall, with confidence and pride as you leave the building. First and last impression tend to stick!
A final word of advice
Throughout the interview, think about your posture, your body language and make sure you have a big smile on your face and keep eye contact. A last word of advice would be to always try using the word we as if you were already part of the company. This is another subtle way of ingraining into the subconscious mind of the interviewer that you are already part of the company. Of course you have to be a bit cautious and I would not do this until I feel we have a very good connection and can make some jokes during the interview. An example of when I would use we would be: “Where do you think we will (as in the team) will be in a couple of years and what will be our main area of focus based on the changes we will face?”
Changing job is a big thing and an important one which will affect all aspects of your life. As such, I would like to think that you will make every effort you possibly can to make your absolute best impression on your interview day. It might affect your and your family’s life for a decade or more and the pay you get will have a significant impact on the quality of your life. These are the reasons why you should never take an interview easily nor for granted. Always make sure you are well prepared and ready to nail it so that you are the one who can make the choice in the end and no one else.
By creating a structure for how you prepare for your interview day you set yourself up for success and the more interviews you do, the better you will become. The better you are at interviews, the more job opportunities you will get and the more money you will make!
Use this technique, fine tune it and become a master and your life will take the turns you want it to take.
Actions to take:
- Step one: How to nail a job interview – Preparation is key!
- Mentally prepare by Brainwashing yourself – listen to motivational and inspirational talks
- Body Language – use it to your advantage