How to have a great job interview

by fred 8. April 2010
The best interviews are conversations which means that you and the are interviewer actively engaged in a conversation and you connect through similar interests outside of the work place environment.  The biggest mistake that students and young professionals make during their interview is that they try to be too professional and are so nervous that they forget that culture fit is just as important as being qualified for the job.  Remember, one of the most important questions that an interviewer will ask herself before she gives you an offer is, “Would I like working with this person?”  If the interviewer would lose her mind if she had to sit next to you on a five-hour flight, then it doesn’t matter how experienced you are or what’s on your resume.  You need to connect with you interviewer, rather than just talking about what's on your resume.

Here are the five ways to effectively establish the connection with you interviewer:

1. Make your first impression count

When you see your interviewer, you should do three things: shake her hand firmly, introduce yourself confidently, and most important, SMILE!  You will of course be nervous for your interview, but that doesn’t mean that you have to show it.  Smiling creates a friendly and welcoming feel that will make the interviewer feel comfortable when meeting you for the first time.

2. Take control of the conversation

Don’t let the walk to your interview room be silent and awkward.  Take control of the conversation by asking the interviewer how her day has been or what she plans to do on the weekend.  It is your job to initiate and keep a conversation going.  Asking her about her weekend is the perfect conversation starter because hopefully she’ll give you a glimpse of what she does outside of work.  If you find that you have something in common, then you can build upon that.  

3. Tell your interviewer about your interests and passions

The first question that your interviewer will ask you is, “Tell me about yourself?”  This is the perfect time to tell the interviewer about your interests and passions.  Most people make the mistake and simply mention their school activities and previous experience.  That is important, but finding grounds of similar interest is even more important.  A general interest that absolutely everyone shares is traveling.  At the end of your answer to “Tell me about yourself,” you can mention that you love to read mystery books, playing soccer, and traveling and experiencing different cultures.  

4. Turn your interview answers into follow up questions

Always find ways to turn your interview answers into relevant follow up questions for your interviewer.  This is the perfect way to stay away from the mind numbing question then answer, question then answer format.  For example, if I give an example using my experience with my business fraternity, I’ll immediately follow up the conclusion to my story by asking, “Were you involved with the Greek life as an undergrad?”

5. Use the ending Q&A section to your advantage

At the end of your interview you will always be asked if you have any questions for your interviewer.  This is still part of your interview, so make sure you have some meaningful and unique questions.  I often use this time to take advantage and learn something meaningful about the interviewer. I will literally ask her, “So let’s get down to the important stuff.  What is it that makes you tick?  What made you choose a career with this company?”

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