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Preparing for an Interview: What’s Important For You To Do, Say & Portray
Are you getting all the right interviews, but never landing the jobs you want? Despite a polished resume and great work ethic, someone who doesn’t perform well in an interview will end up back at square one almost every time. There’s truly no such thing as successfully “winging it” or making it up as you go; successful people take their opportunities seriously and prepare accordingly.
Good preparation, planning, practice and coaching can help you overcome a poor interview slump. Here’s what you should do, say, and portray in order to have a successful interview the Más Talent HR way, every time.
Research the company or organization you are interviewing with. Before you walk into your interview, you should be well researched and versed about the organization or company you are interviewing to work for. So much about an organization is available online today as a resource for candidates to learn more about strengths of an organization, financial health, organizational culture, insight about leadership and market competition.
Use your existing network to get a feel for the organization’s culture. Your professional network is one of your most powerful tools for not only getting the interview, but also for nailing it. Using your existing professional network to understand the culture of the organization and the circumstances of the job opportunity in front of you will give you a clear picture and understanding for your interview. LinkedIn is a great tool to help identify who in your network works or has worked for an organization. Start by identifying those individuals in your network and pick up the phone or email them directly to explore. First hand knowledge is one of the best tools to help you understand an organization’s dynamics. Online resources through glassdoor.com, themuse.com and caparably.com are also great tools that feature employee reviews and experiences about workplace cultures.
Prepare by practicing common interview questions and your elevator speech. As the saying goes: “practice makes perfect,” and interviews are no exception. Having polished (not necessarily rehearsed) answers on hand for frequently asked interview questions like “What is your biggest strength in the workplace?” will help you avoid awkward or rushed answers. In addition, making sure that you have a straight and to-the-point elevator speech about yourself, your abilities and your professional goals will help you stand out in a sea of interviewees. You can easily video record yourself with your phone and play it back to identify what areas to tweak.
Many employers are moving to recruiting software software tools like HireVue and Jobvite to assist them in facilitating the interviewing process by self driven video interviews. Candidates need to be prepared to interview via video with concrete examples of their experience.
Talk confidently about your strengths and expertise. Interviews are your time to shine a spotlight on all of your best strengths, accomplishments and areas of expertise. Think of it as an opportunity to talk about your favorite lines of your resume and highlight moments of your career you are especially proud of. What are you really good at? What do you enjoy doing and why? These are questions that take time to answer and require reflection. Take time before your interview to understand your preferences and practice communicating them until you feel confident in sharing them.
Explain your passion for the work, not just “why you want the job.” Many interviewers will pose the “why do you want to work here?” question at some point in your interview process. Talking about your passion for the industry you work in or in the type of work and how it connects to the job at hand will help you stand out over a mundane, common explanation. Employers are looking for a variety of responses when they ask open ended questions. Sometimes interviewers are looking for more than just the literal answer; they often are looking at how you answer.
Act like you are qualified and well-suited for the job. Confidence is key when approaching a big interview. Henry Ford said it best in his quote, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.” Self confidence and how you portray yourself is the biggest indicator of how your interviewer will see you. Good news is that it can be generated and regained– a firm handshake, direct eye contact and a well pressed suit can help you improve how you feel and appear to others.
Harvard Business School Lecturer and Author, Amy Cuddy, shares Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, shares in her research that changing your body positions not only affects your brain’s testosterone and cortisol levels, but also influences how others see you.
Standing firm in your experience and qualifications and how it relates to the business will portray your value to an interviewer. Employers want to see candidates who are self aware, understand their areas of expertise and know what environments where they would clearly excel.