Interviews are the ultimate challenge in presenting. You are in essence presenting yourself, but you are not in control! It’s almost like a texas style presentation with no protected time. So how can you control the interview and present yourself in the best light?
Thanks to my cover letter, I’ve recently had the chance to go to a lot of interviews. And one thing I can say for sure is that there is no substitute for experience. I can honestly say every interview I did was better than the last. And although I may not be an expert on interviews, I have made some major blunders/discoveries which I would like to share with you.
1. Have good answers to the most common questions
“Why do you want to work here” — this is a question you should have a very good answer to, especially for a competitive job. Everyone is as qualified and interesting as you are or more. You need to show passion for the company and the job.
Most interviews will include questions like “tell me about a time when you were faced with conflict” or less direct “how would you handle a situation if one of your co-workers did something unethical”. Both of these questions are perfect for a story! Have a few go-to stories ready to go, ideally if there is some conflict and a good outcome then it can be used to answer a variety of questions.
2. Choose your words carefully
If you can, really avoid using word like “like”, “um”, “you know”. It’s better to take a deep breath, pause, and then speak eloquently. If you need some extra time to think of your answer, use this active listening trick: repeat the interviewer’s question, or paraphrase what they just said. Not only does it create a connection with your interviewer, it will also give you some time to think of a great answer!
3. Imitate the interviewer
I wish you could have all seen my last interview. I had two interviewers with vastly different body position and verbal pace. Each time I answered a question, I directed it to one of the two interviewers (usually the one that asked the question) and I copied both their body language and the speed that they talked in. I was sure they were going to call me out since the change was so drastic. But they didn’t! And I crushed the interview!
More than anything, think of the interview as a presentation. Write out some answers to common questions along with some stories and practice them out loud. Make sure you have a good intro and conclusion ready to go. And above all, be confident and enthusiastic!
Remember, an interview, like presenting, is an art form! So make your next interview into a masterpiece!