Interview Techniques That Work – Part One
Here at Select Resumes, we often say that our ultimate goal is to get you to interview. Whilst that is certainly fundamental to our mission statement, our work on your resume, cover letter and key selection criteria does not necessarily end there. Because there is one more step, you may feel you need a helping hand with – the interview itself. And there is one other service we offer – interview techniques.
Some people have no issues with interviews; they are naturally confident, engaging, can think on their feet and can persuasively ‘sell’ themselves. But not everyone is like that. And it need not follow that because you are first-class accountant, nurse, teacher, mine worker, or public sector professional that you will automatically possess these skills. For some, even if they are natural speakers and can easily build rapport, the interview process can still instil dread. You’ve done all the interview prep you can: you’ve read through every single page of the company’s website, come up with a set of intelligent questions to ask your interviewers, and used your friends and family for practice sessions of common interview questions. But despite all of this, you still find yourself walking into the interview with your stomach in knots from nerves.
Unfortunately, it is exactly that anxiety about that can cause you to make the biggest mistakes of all – negative body language, sounding hesitant and uncertain in your answers, and generally not appearing very confident or poised. All your qualifications can be easily outdone if all the interviewer remembers is how unprofessional you seemed.
One thing to remember is that your panel is on your side – hold on to the fact that they want to fill the post. Yes, of course, you are up against other applicants, but the panel, despite all their questions they throw at you wants you to do well. If you can remember that in the interview itself, this alone will put you at ease and give you the best chance to shine.
But you can use that anxiety to your advantage. Try to be enthused about the whole process. A good interview technique is to be excited. It has been proven that feeling of anxiety is closely related to the feeling of excitement. They are both agitated states – where your body and mind are in a heightened state of awareness – but with different emotional perspectives. Anxiety is agitation that is draining, negative, and cynical, whereas excitement is agitation that is energising, positive, and optimistic. Calmness, on the other hand, is on the opposite end of the spectrum from these two emotions – so shifting from an agitated state to a serene state not just impractical, it is virtually impossible
At our interview techniques coaching session we’ll teach you how to focus, how to listen properly, how to prepare your own questions, how to use your body language and how to be verbally adept without sounding stilted or false – or smug and arrogant. We’ll teach you about the basic principles of neurolinguistic programming – how to mirror and match your interview panel to get them on-side (if you cross your legs, and they follow suit – then you’re making great progress!).
We will advise you about the proper dress code for interviews. Interview clothes should always look professional, be comfortable and importantly, make you feel confident. Find out what the company culture is like and how people dress before deciding on what you will wear (think suits for banks, something business casual for schools, open-necked shirts for mining, etc.). And remember that if you never wear suits and want to wear one for the interview, practice wearing one in advance (you might end up looking and feeling uncomfortable otherwise.) Do not forget to shine your shoes and make sure they do not give you any blisters before you head out the door. If you feel uncomfortable, you will be uncomfortable.
You’ll learn all about classic opening questions your panel will put to you and how to answer them – hint, they will sound superficially innocuous but are couched in such a way to coax information from you that will simultaneously put you at ease and glean more about you as an individual than your resume offers. You will be surprised at how much “What have you been doing lately?” and “What made you apply for this job?” will reveal about you.
Another interview technique you will learn is your own opening remarks. You can guarantee that you will have to tell the interviewer about yourself, and what your career goals are. Practice the answers but do not sound like a broken record. Do not just memorise your resume and basically read it back to them when asked to talk about yourself. It’s smart to use it as a reference point as your interviewer is likely to have it in front of them and to mention key events or points when appropriate, but just make sure your answers always add something interesting to the story your resume already tells.
Next time we will explore some more great interview techniques to help you shine on the day.