Frame the interview as a conversation, rather than an interrogation, says Lauren Autumn Cox
The job you have always wanted is within your grasp. Qualifications, experience, and knowledge have taken you into the 2% of candidates applying for jobs who are selected for interview. The pressure is on, but remember, at its core, an interview is a conversation. It’s a speaking exercise. A chat. It’s something you do every day.
To help you make the most of your next job interview, try these four key strategies:
1. Be Authentic
You’ve done your homework and prepared for the interview. You have a clear idea of what the organisation you’re applying to join does, and its current focus and goals. But over-preparation can be problematic. Being honest and authentic does not require a script (or that you adopt a character).
And, whilst it’s great to be confident, remember that declaring you are brilliant at X almost certainly means you will need to back up your claim with an example. Give genuine evidence of where you’ve modelled the behaviours they want to see, and if you don’t have an example, think about how you would apply the given behaviour in an imagined scenario.
People are sensitive to façades. They will recognise if you’re putting on an act, and it won’t endear you to them. So, from start to finish, be yourself.
2. Leverage Active Listening
Consider the key facets of active listening: open body language, eye contact, and responsiveness. You exhibit these behaviours when you’re talking to a friend or a loved one because you’re genuinely engaged with what they have to say. These golden rules also apply in interview situations, whether you’re listening or replying to a question.
Let your interviewer see that you’re engaging with them by maintaining eye contact, allowing them time to speak, and giving visual clues like nods. Actions speak louder than words, and it’s no use being a brilliant speaker if you’re staring at your feet.
3. Humanise Your Interviewer
Your interviewer is a human being. Yes, they will be making a decision that will impact your life, but the interviewer is also someone with worries, concerns, and joys, and who wants to be liked as much as you do. They may even be nervous themselves. Having compassion for the person who interviews you will remind you that they have their flaws and vulnerabilities too. This, in turn, will help you to relax, take your time, and be your authentic self – while also doing the same for them.
4. Cultivate Curiosity
Asking questions is a common piece of interview advice. This doesn’t mean you need to walk in with a prepared list, although that can be helpful. A better way to frame it is to cultivate curiosity.
At the end of the interview, your interviewer may ask if you have any questions, but this isn’t a given and can quickly become mechanical. So, where appropriate, weave questions throughout the interview to encourage conversation. Is there a project you’re really excited about that you know the company is working on? If you’re attending in person, take note of anything you see that interests you as you walk into the company’s building, and take a mental note of any queries that stir in you. Hours, wages, and other contractual details can be clarified once you’ve got the job. Focus on making the best impression possible.
By framing the interview as an authentic, engaging conversation with another human being, rather than some sort of interrogational ordeal, you will build rapport and establish a solid relationship that stands you in good stead for what hopefully becomes your future role.