Winning a job in a competitive market is all about mastering the art of selling yourself. Many of us (myself included) feel awkward talking ourselves up, but there are tactful, intelligent ways to do so that can land you your dream job. It all starts with the interview! I’ve compiled a list of some of the best techniques below.
PREPARATION: the more prepared you are going into it, the more confident you will feel during the interview.
- Before you go in, learn as much as you possibly can about the company and the position you’re applying for. Look at the company website, check out their social media pages, and search online for recent news and press releases. If you know the name of your interviewer, look them up too. Coming off as knowledgeable about the company is a major plus—your interviewer will get a strong sense of your commitment.
- Practice answering typical interview questions so you’ll be prepared and comfortable when the time comes. Some of these questions include: What is your greatest strength/weakness? How do you handle success/failure? How are you different from the competition? For a more complete list of questions, visit: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/interviewquestionsanswers/a/interviewquest.htm.
Whatever you do, don’t be this guy!!
- Plan out what you’re going to wear ahead of time. Know where you’re headed and give yourself plenty of time to arrive to the interview around fifteen minutes ahead of schedule.
- Be sure to bring a portfolio stocked with extra copies of your resume, a list of references, and questions to ask the interviewer. Don’t bring a cellphone, coffee, gum, or anything else that could be potentially distracting.
WHEN YOU GET THERE:
- Greet everyone you come into contact with politely and enthusiastically. Shake hands firmly and maintain eye contact.
- Remember your body language.
- When walking or standing, stand tall with your shoulders back and down. You will appear confident, even if you’re actually feeling anxious.
- When you sit down with your interviewer, try to relax and lean forward. Don’t lean back or slump—you will look too casual and uninterested. Plant both feet firmly on the floor. Pay close attention, maintain eye contact, and be attentive.
DURING THE INTERVIEW:
- Share your professional vision
- Your interviewer has already reviewed your resume by the time you get to him/her. Your past experiences earned you the interview (congrats!), but now it’s time to shift from the past to the future. What do you see yourself doing? How do you see yourself doing it? How will the company help you to achieve your goals? Give your interviewer all the juicy details! Really paint him/her a picture of your aspirations.
- Make a friend
- An interview only lasts a short amount of time (usually 30 mins to an hour), but it’s crucial to establish a connection with your interviewer during that time. The fact of the matter is, people hire job candidates because they like the idea of having them around. So reach out to your interviewer! Ask them what they find most rewarding about their job. What do they like the most about the company? Do they have any stories to illustrate this? Your interviewer will get the impression that you’re not only interested in the job, but in him/her and the company as a whole. Through this process, you’ll learn more about your interviewer and the dynamics of the company you’re applying to.
- Avoid cookie-cutter answers
- Many job applicants will say the same things: “I’m so excited to work here,” and “I’d make a perfect fit.” However, these sorts of superficial answers don’t really tell the interviewer anything about you, nor do they demonstrate your ability to think critically. Try to give answers that prompt your interviewer to think about what you’ve said. Get them engaged and keep them interested. Make the interview a “give-and-take” interaction. Show the interviewer you are aware of both your strengths and your weaknesses. Acknowledging your weaknesses (aka admitting you’re human) is much more convincing than an “I can accomplish any task you give me, no matter what” mentality.
- Talk yourself up (tastefully!) by providing examples
- Your interviewer wants to know that you are reliable, trustworthy, and capable of getting the job done. So, show him/her how great you are! instead of simply listing job titles you’ve held previously, tell your interviewer about the projects you’ve worked on/completed within these jobs. How did you contribute to completing important tasks? How did you meet certain impressive goals? Anyone can say, “I’m committed and disciplined,” but providing concrete examples that demonstrate your commitment and discipline will go much further.
POST-INTERVIEW: Be sure to send a follow-up “thank you” email within 24 hours of your interview. Whatever you do, DON’T FORGET. Many employers will be offended that you failed to send them a note. Remember, your letter should be a thank you, but it should also reiterate why you want the job, your qualifications, and what you will contribute to the company if they award you with the position.
For further reading, check out this great Forbes article on how to impress even the toughest of interviewers: http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/04/24/8-tips-for-acing-a-tough-job-interview/