Americans will have at least 10 jobs before retirement, based on current Bureau of Labor Statistics research that shows average job tenure in 2016 was a little over four years. Companies often conduct two or more interviews of a potential candidate before deciding to hire them. This means, at best, most of us must interview at least 20 (and likely 30 to 40) more times before we retire. Like it or not, acing the interview is a must for long-term career growth. Here are five tips for interview success:
hile it is important to be qualified, it is even more important to create the right impression.
1. Dress to gain trust and command respect. In her book “Presence,” Harvard professor and social psychologist Amy Cuddy reports that humans are judged on two primary factors – trustworthiness and respectability. Creating an ideal image does not require expensive outfits. It means selecting clothing, accessories, makeup and a hairstyle that command respect in your targeted industry. To portray this image, you have to think about the fit of the clothes, make sure they are wrinkle- and stain-free, look modern and are both age- and profession-appropriate.
2. Show up in the office five minutes before your appointment time. Although that sentence looks simple enough, it has two powerful and often overlooked components: “in the office” and “five minutes.” This does not mean park five minutes before the interview or get in the building security line with five minutes to spare. It means walk through the office or suite door five minutes before your appointment.
While it is clear why running late or cutting it close are not good strategies, the same goes for walking into the office more than five minutes early. Not every company has a huge lobby or waiting area. Arriving too early may mean that you are staring at the person who will interview you and have now obligated him or her to start your meeting earlier than planned.
If you arrive earlier than intended, hang outside the building or even in the bathroom before your ideal time. The extra few minutes will give you time to prepare and ensure that you don’t impose on your interviewer.
3. Arrive prepared. Bring a pen, notebook or portfolio with paper, several resume copies and a list of questions you would like to ask the interviewer. Many interviews start first with a request for your resume. Removing a neat, unfolded version from your notebook is an excellent first step.
Next, all interviewers like to know that they have said something useful enough for you to write it down. Jot notes throughout the meeting, no matter how positive you are that you will remember everything. Writing not only tells the interviewer you value her input, but it also gives both of you a break from staring at one another. Furthermore, it can give you a chance to glance at the notes you prepared before the meeting regarding key strengths you want to reference or questions you want to ask.
Finally, remember to look up at least as much as you look at the paper. Writing notes is important, but active eye contact tells the hiring authority you are paying attention.
4. Select real-life examples that display key hiring traits. One of the biggest complaints made by hiring managers is when a candidate seems “all talk.” Candidates who prove they have the desired skills fair better in the interview process. Identify the top desired traits for a role and prepare examples that clearly demonstrate your experience and abilities.
5. Have a conversation. The best interviews are a give and take. Come prepared to discuss the company, the role, your background, current trends in the industry, the reason for the opening and any recent business events that may impact the interviewer, role, company or industry. Companies want to hire engaged employees who have taken the time to learn about the company and role for which they are applying.
Without this critical preparation, most interviews are merely one-sided exchanges in which the interviewer asks questions and the candidate responds to the question but cannot expand beyond it. The ability to have fluid conversation conveys preparation, intelligence, people skills, active listening and a commitment to your career. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to display these traits in the meeting.
Interview success is more about how the interviewer feels about you than about how well you can do the job. That is not to say that you don’t need to be qualified – you do need to be in the ballpark. However, many highly qualified people get rejected because they do not clearly convey how they are an ideal (and likable) match for the role. While it is important to display your business qualifications, it is even more important to create the right impression.
Securing an interview is a significant accomplishment. Make the most of the opportunity by factoring in these tips for an instant boost in your next interview.