Unless you have been living under a rock for the last year or so, you have noticed the American unemployment problem hasn’t gone away. The number of well trained, qualified people applying to fill positions greatly exceeds the number of positions. So it is not surprising that applicants are worried they won’t stand out from the crowd or say the right things during the crucial interview.
That being said, there are also many misconceptions regarding “correct” interview practices all over the internet; and just as many online career info services offering advice that ends up getting jumbled together and causing more confusion than anything else. It is important to be able to sort through the rubble, and only keep the information that will help get you the job.
We sorted through some of the aforementioned “advice” for some interview guidance, and honed in on the counsel of a few experts who offered several tips to help you stand out and secure your place in the company. Following is the antidote to the bad advice people follow when preparing for, and going on an interview.
Don’t wait till the close of the interview to ask all your questions.
This is NOT to say you should not educate yourself on the company, the position, and also formulate whatever initial questions you may have beforehand. Quite to the contrary, you should ALWAYS prepare yourself before an interview. What we stress is that you don’t wait till you’re almost out of time to speak.
The misinformation here is that you have to wait for “your turn” to speak, according to Kera Greene of the Career Counselors Consortium. She says that by waiting for your interviewer to ask you if you have questions, the interview “becomes an interrogation instead of a conversation”.
The best job interviews reflect an intelligent conversation taking place between the candidate and the applicant.
Greene suggests that you consider your interview as we would a sales call. You, the candidate are the product, and you want to sell yourself to the employer. “You can’t be passive in a sales call or you aren’t going to sell your product.”
Executive coach Barbara Frankel echoes Green’s words; “It’s a two-way street”, she says. One recommendation Frankel offered would be “asking a follow-up question at the tail end of your responses.”
She elaborates, “for example” if the questioner says, “Tell me about yourself,” you would first respond to that question and then complete your reply with a question like, “Can you tell me more about the position?” She suggests that by asking a question relevant to your reply at the end of your responses, you will keep fluidity throughout the conversation; and keep both sides talking, and interested.
Don’t boast of your strengths during your interview.
At some point during your interview they will ask you of your skills. This is where many people mess up. Obviously, the point of an interview is to determine if you are a valuable candidate for the job. Your objective is to demonstrate why you are, but not by talking yourself up. “Selling yourself” to your interviewer requires delicacy. You shouldn’t say anything that could make you sound arrogant or egocentric.
You also should not simply list your skills, this can undersell you. “You don’t want to list a litany of strengths,” says Allen Cranston from Resumethatworks.
Many people answer a question about their strengths with an elaborate list of skills that mean little without explaining their relevance in a particular circumstance.
“What is typical is that they will say: ‘I’m a good communicator,’ ‘I have excellent interpersonal skills,’ ‘I am responsible,’” Greene explains, but this is not enough. “You have to give accomplishments.” She continues; if conducting your interview “I need to know what did you accomplish when using these skills?”
Frankel suggests preparing yourself to answer this question before your interview. Really take the time to think about what you want to say. She encourages her clients to research what the potential position involves. “What makes an interview powerful is to give an example related to their particular needs or challenges that you have demonstrated in the past.”
Better to share a short, insightful list of your skills then a long, detailed one which could be unconvincing or perceived as fake. Don’t linger; keep your list to a few strong points that you have good examples of how you used them in past work.
Don’t be afraid to show some weakness in your interview.
In actuality, the interviewer may likely come straight out and ask you to name one. Every human has flaws, it’s expected. Honesty is what is important here.
The interviewer is looking for your honest answers concerning your flaws, and will not be impressed by admission of any “healthy flaws”, which you come up with hoping to impress them. One “healthy flaw” which is often offered is “I am too committed to my work” or other similar statements which will only make you look pretentious.
“Every recruiter can see through that,” advises Green. They have seen and heard every trick in the book. “They prefer to hire someone who is honest than someone who is obviously lying,” says outstanding expert from the best essay writing service in Canada.
“Everybody has weaknesses”, Frankel offers, but then stresses that ONE flaw is all you should share. She suggests you honestly expose one real flaw, and then explain how you are constructively working to overcome it.
Don’t bring up your pay during your interview
One of the hardest questions to answer during your interview concerns salary expectations. Talking about money makes some people uncomfortable, and can make an interview tense. Because of this, at this point in the hiring process, it is often best not to answer that question just yet.
An excerpt from the book “Acing the Interview: How to Ask and Answer the Questions That Will Get You The Job!”, instructs you to reply: “I want to earn a salary that is commensurate with the contributions I can make. I am confident I can make a substantial contribution at your firm. What does your firm plan to pay for this position?”
Greene advocates a similar counter, offering: “I prefer to discuss the compensation package after you’ve decided that I’m the best candidate and we can sit down and negotiate the package.”
Remember that just because someone is conducting your interview does not mean they have the ultimate say on whether or not you get the job. Even if you WOW the initial interviewer, often they are only the first tier of the hiring process; you will still have to meet with several higher-ups to really discuss specifics like benefits package and salary expectations.
Stay focused, do your research, keep communication flowing, don’t brag, and use your head; you will be amazed how much closer you will find yourself to landing that dream job.