One of the most difficult tasks facing any job seeker is the interview. For many, interviews conjure up images of awkwardness and discomfort. Sometimes, people even feel outright terror. Interviews are certainly demanding situations. However, by focusing on a few of these lesser known tips for interviews, candidates can have a successful experience. These hold true no matter what field an interview is in.
1. Show The Employer, Don’t Tell Them
When teachers work with their students to write more effectively, they often suggest that the student show the reader what they’re trying to say through description. This is better than telling the reader directly. Those preparing for an interview will do well to implement the exact same advice.
One way this can be accomplished is to have a few brief work stories ready. For example, telling a story about a time work had to be restructured around a demanding coworker shows flexibility. It could also illustrate how a candidate navigates a work environment with demanding people. Practice them before hand, make sure they are short, and give both direct and indirect information.
2. Don’t Ignore Failures
On the topic of stories, it is important to have at least one ready where the project ended up failing, or at least not meeting expectations. Everyone has setbacks, and one of the most important traits a person can have for workplace success is their ability to learn and rebound from failures. All successful people have failed at a project or job once in their life. In fact, these are often more important to an interview than the strengths section. After all, everyone has strengths to talk about at an interview.
By preparing ways to integrate comments about overcoming prior failures, the candidate shows skill in an area most people neglect in the interview. They also show honesty, transparency, and resilience to their potential employer. All of these things can mean the difference in standing out from the crowd of applicants.
3. Align Your Pitch to the Job
While many candidates have a rich and interesting job history, the interview is not a great time to dwell on it. Certainly, prior accomplishments are important to note. This is particularly true if these achievements occurred in the same industry, or in a related field. That said, many candidates take way too much of the interviewer’s time by rehashing their entire work history.
Think of it this way: An interview is a person’s chance to make a strong first impression. If a candidate was going to get the job based on their prior work history, all that would be required is a resume. Furthermore, people begin to lose interest in a very short amount of time, especially after interviewing hundreds of applicants. It is important to get right to the heart of the matter right away. For interviews, that means getting right into why the candidate and job fit perfectly.
Most people do not focus on the hobbies and interests component of the resume or the interview. However, lifestyle and hobbies can be deceptively important, especially for high level positions. Many people see this section as a way to further express their dedication to their work. This is often a mistake.
Many positions benefit a difficult work-life balance. For example, higher level positions require the job holder to be a public face in the community and network with many other professionals. This is extremely valuable to an organization. For those positions, this is a point in the interview where a candidate can focus on how well suited they are to communicate with others and make connections in many different parts of life. Don’t be afraid to talk about hobbies and interests outside the scope of the work required for the job. Who knows, a few might even match up with the interviewer.
5. Keep It Interesting
While many interviews include dry, boring questions, it is important to keep injecting personality into responses whenever possible. After all, co-workers spend a considerable amount of time together. “Fit” with a company often consists of a great deal of personality alignment and, for lack of a better term, fun factor.
So, it is important to be witty, charming and fun. This is hard to do when the focus is entirely on giving the most technically correct answer for every possible question. It is important to stay as light hearted as is appropriate, and give intelligent answers in a friendly, comfortable style.