The stage is set. Your resume is on the table. Now, all you have to do is convince the person across from you that you’re the one for the job. Sounds easy enough, right?
Sadly, it’s not. It’s so difficult, in fact, that Laura Paradise of Work for Good says: “Interviews are something very few people ever master, including most veterans of the workforce. The rules are subtle, every minute matters, and it’s a skill in which many people have not had a lot of practice.” All it takes to improve, however, is a little shift in understanding.
The point of the interview is not your resume or qualifications. They got you in the door. The real test is your professional demeanor, self-assuredness, and ability to communicate. “How you posture yourself, how you express your ideas, and how you relate to the person you’re speaking to are all parts of the unspoken agenda,” says Paradise. “It’s more about how you speak than what you say.”
To interview well, you have two tasks: effectively communicate and carry yourself well. These tips can help you become an inspiring interviewee:
- Stand tall and sit up straight: In the first seconds, focus on eye contact and body language that communicates confidence, comfort, and the willingness to meet the interviewer on their terms.
- Expect the unexpected: Companies (as well as individuals) all do interviews differently. Sometimes you won’t be asked a question for a long time. Sometimes you’re asked a question specifically designed to catch you off guard. Sometimes people are weird. Have key points locked and ready and then face the unexpected with confident professionalism.
- Develop clear talking points: Know what you want to communicate, then find the clearest and most memorable ways to illustrate your point. Keep stories short, stick to the bottom line, and always tie the information back to what you want to say about yourself.
- Don’t be stodgy: Professionalism is paramount but remember to stay relaxed. You have to prove you can contribute to a positive work environment by handling situations with poise (and perhaps even a smile).
- Have strong opening and closing lines: Good openers and closers help drive the story. If you want to effectively land your point, know how to start strong, make your point, and end on a high note.
- Lead with outcomes: Start your points with what you accomplished, then backtrack into how you accomplished them. Facts are the best segue to what you bring to the table.
- Use the village: Practice with friends and ask what was most memorable for them! Only with practice can you hone a valuable skill.