9 Things That Will Help You Improve Your Interview Technique
It’s a fact that great interview technique gets results. In the best interviews, candidates say a lot and interviewers very little – after all, the interview is about the candidate, not the interviewer – so, here are 9 things that will help you improve your interview technique and land that job you’ve always wanted:
1. They want you to be likeable.
They want to work with people they like and who in turn like them.
So, smile, make eye contact, sit forward in your chair and be enthusiastic. The employer-employee relationship truly is a relationship — and that relationship starts with the interview (if not before.)
A candidate who makes a great first impression and sparks a real connection instantly becomes a big fish in a very small short-list pond. You may have solid qualifications, but if they don’t think they’ll enjoy working with you, they’re probably not going to hire you.
Life is too short.
2. They don’t want you to immediately say you want the job.
They do want you to want the job — but not before you really know what the job entails. They may need you to work 60-hour weeks, or travel 80% of the time, or report to someone with less experience than you… so sit tight for a bit.
No matter how much research you’ve done, you can’t know you want the job until you know everything possible about the job.
3. They want you to stand out….
A sad truth of interviewing is that the interviewer won’t remember everything about all of the candidates, especially if there are a number of candidates and interviewing is spread over a few days, so impressions rather than a long list of facts will help you stand out.
So, when the interviewer later meets with staff to discuss potential candidates they might initially refer to someone as, “the guy with the stainless-steel briefcase,” or “the woman who ran the marathon,” or “the gentleman who abseiled down that building for charity,” or even “that candidate had terrific interview technique”.
In short, they may remember you by “hooks” – whether flattering or unflattering – so use that to your advantage. Your hook could be your clothing, or an outside interest, or an unusual fact about your upbringing or career. Better yet, your hook could be the project you pulled off in half the expected time or the huge sale you made.
Instead of letting them choose, give them one or two notable ways to remember you.
4. … but not for being negative.
There’s no way they can remember everything you say. But they will remember sound bites, especially the negative ones – like the candidates who complain, without prompting, about their current employer, their co-workers, or their customers.
So, if, for example, you hate being micro-managed, instead say you’re eager to earn more responsibility and authority. They understand there are reasons you want a new job but they want to hear why you want their job instead of why you’re desperate to escape your old job.
And keep in mind they’re well aware the interview is like a first date. They know they’re getting the best possible version of “you.” So, if you whine and complain and grumble now… they know you’ll be a real treat to be around in a few months.
5. They want you to ask lots of questions about what really matters to you…
They need to know whether they should hire you, but just as importantly they need you to make sure their job is a good fit for you.
So they want you to ask lots of questions: What they expect you to accomplish early on, what attributes make their top performers outstanding, what you can do to truly drive results, how you’ll be evaluated… all the things that matter to you and to them and their business.
You know what makes work meaningful and enjoyable to you. They don’t. There’s no other way to really know whether you want the job unless you ask questions.
6. … but only if the majority of those questions relate to real work.
They know you want a positive work-life balance. Still, save all those questions about vacation sign-up policies and whether it’s okay to take an extra half hour at lunch every day if you also stay a half hour late and whether they’ve considered setting up an in-house childcare facility because that would be really awesome for you and your family.
First, find out if you’re the right person for the job, and whether the tasks, responsibilities, duties, etc. are right for you.
Then you can talk about the rest.
7. They love it when you bring a “project.”
They expect you to do a little research about their company. That’s just basic interview technique.
To really impress them, use the research you’ve done to describe how you will hit the ground running and contribute right away – the bigger the impact the better. If you bring a specific skill, show how they can leverage that skill immediately.
Remember how they see it: They have to pay your salary starting day one, so they’d love to see an immediate return on that investment starting day one.
8. At the end they want you to ask for the job… and they want to know why.
By the end of the interview you should have a good sense of whether you want the job. If you need more information, say so and then figure out how to get what you need to make a decision.
If you don’t need more information, do what great salespeople do and ask for the job.
They’ll like the fact you asked. They want you to really want the job — but they also want to know why you want the job. So, tell them why: You thrive in an unsupervised role, or you love working with multiple teams, or you like frequent travel.
Ask them for the job and prove to them, objectively, that it’s a great fit for you.
9. They want you to follow up… especially if it’s genuine.
Every interviewer appreciates a brief follow-up note. If nothing else, saying you enjoyed meeting them and are happy to answer any other questions is nice. You can do this through the agency or directly if you have their permission to do so.
However, “nice” may not separate you from the pack.
What they really like – and will remember – is when you follow up based on something you discussed. Maybe you talked about new accountancy software and you send them information about a package you strongly recommend. Maybe you talked about quality and you send them a process checklist you developed that they could adapt to use in their company. Or maybe you both like running, so you send them a photo of you finishing the London marathon.
The more closely you listened during the interview, the easier it is to think of ways to follow up in a natural and unforced way.
Remember, you’re starting a relationship — and even the most professional of relationships are based on genuine interactions. Follow these 9 things as closely as possible and you will see your interview technique improve enormously.
Good luck with your next interview!