You’ve researched the company that you want to work for. You’ve prepared your interview outfit. You’ve practiced answering interview questions. You’ve developed a confident and can-do attitude… and gone through all the other steps in preparation for your job interview. Now, “D-Day” is here and you’re about to meet your interviewer. Nervous? Understandable. But no worries – just master the following tips for acing the interview itself and you’ll most likely zip through this stage of the hiring process with a job offer to consider!
Mind your manners. You’ve just arrived at the interview location and met the receptionist and/or your interviewer. This is exactly when this oft-repeated saying rings true: “You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.” If there is a secretary or receptionist, greet him or her with “Hello,” state that you have an interview, and inform them of the time of your appointment and who you are supposed to meet. Then, introduce yourself to your interviewer with a firm handshake as you state your name and the position you’re interviewing for. Let the interviewer lead the conversation and wait for him/her to ask you to sit. Remember the importance of first impressions!
Respond confidently and politely to interview questions. It is at this point that your “sales pitch” begins. To sell yourself as the best candidate for the position, you need to provide responses that are brief, focused, and demonstrate the skills that you bring to the table. Let your answers show how you can do the job and how the company can benefit by hiring you. To ensure that you answer directly and to the point – and avoid rambling or digressing – be sure to listen carefully to the question and thoughtfully formulate your answer.
Ask the right questions. A successful interview is a give and take between the interviewer and yourself. Asking the right questions also demonstrates your interest in the job and the company and your grasp of relevant information. For example, ask questions that relate to the following: organizational/ departmental goals (specify a time frame), performance measurements, threats and opportunities facing the company, typical projects that you’ll be handling, ways to exceed the company’s expectations, industry trends and competitive situation, employee development, corporate culture, decision-making processes, etc.
Know how to negotiate your salary. First rule (and this you have to decide before you even go to the interview) is to know what you’re worth and to determine the kind of compensation you’re willing to go with. Are you willing to be flexible (more perks or stock options instead of a higher salary)? As with all negotiations, a salary discussion is a two-way street. So if you want a higher salary than what is offered, you’ve got to ask. You are expected to negotiate, after all, and simply requesting more doesn’t mean that an offer will be rescinded. Also, if the company is offering less than what you want, inquire how long it takes to get a raise (based on good performance, of course). It’s important to keep in mind that salaries are also based on the company’s financial position.
Stay calm and avoid stress. You want your interviewer to see you as a cool customer – and getting interview jitters isn’t going to help. As we mentioned, preparation and practice go a long way in helping you project calm and confidence. Instead of having negative thoughts (“I’m going to mess this up”), imagine visions of success and practice relaxation techniques beforehand. Arrive earlier than the appointed hour so you can relax, focus, and calm down. Consider the interview as a normal conversation between two people– not as a career-threatening event. Focus on your purpose for acing the interview – not on what the interviewer is thinking. Take your time (no one’s rushing you) to ensure that you provide clear, well-thought-out answers (and questions!). And most of all, know that this is just one job and one interview out of all the hundreds of opportunities out there!
Close the sale (ask for the job). Why not? At the end of the interview, you can ask the interviewer how it went and what he/she thinks of you as a job prospect. Too bold? Then at least inquire about the next step in the process, when a decision will be reached, or who to contact for a follow-up. Asking for a business card is appropriate at this point.
Watch for Part 3 of this article: TIPS: Job Interviews that Get You Hired (After the Interview)