Job interviews. They’re a necessary evil, yes? We need the job, this is part of the process to getting it. It’s crazy scary because everything depends on this conversation with strangers who are going to make a decision about your life. The stakes are high. You absolutely need to nail your job interview.
This is so important that we need to be completely prepared. One of my “jokes” is that we go through many years of schooling, we gain onsite experience and then we get to a job interview and we’re nervous as heck and stammering all over the place! Drawing a blank. Losing sleep in advance.
Here are some steps to getting you absolutely ready to nail your job interview & land your dream job.
Do Your Due Diligence about the Firm
Get all the facts about the firm that you can. Know the directors and other key players. Know their clients and the projects they’re working on. Get to know their mission statement. Also, know the job you’re applying for. This way you’ll appear to be educated about the firm. They’ll love that. And think about the reaction if they discover you don’t know important information about the firm! That’s not going to help you nail your job interview!
Dress For Success
Wear the clothes that are appropriate for the job itself but step it up a notch. If your job requires that you wear a suit, wear a suit, but add a pocket square and some great shoes.
If you want to nail your job interview, your attire will make an impression. People don’t always analyze specifically what you’re wearing but the impression they get is subconscious. It’ll help you to fit in even before you’ve gotten the job.
Roleplay the Answers to Questions
We know many of the questions that interviewers may ask us. For example, “What are your strengths & what are your weaknesses?” “Why are you leaving your current job?” “Were there any difficulties you’ve faced & how did you deal with them?” etc. etc. There may be you-specific questions that you’re concerned about. Perhaps you were fired from your last job & you need to explain. Or maybe you have a few years unaccounted for on your resume. These are stories that you need to prepare.
Don’t Be Afraid of Your Recorder. It is Your Best Friend.
The only way to nail your job interview is to be super-prepared. First, answer these questions into a recorder. Then listen to your answers and revise them in a written format. You’ll likely be making your answers a bit shorter & more concise. Think of just the important facts and remove the superfluous words & phrases. Next, read the answers aloud into a recorder again. And finally record the answers to the questions off-the-cuff again.
I do a lot of interview practice with my clients. Just yesterday a client asked if you should just keep talking and leave no pauses. I was appalled! He said he had a professor who told him to just keep talking and to avoid pauses. That’s what inspired me to write this post. Read on & you’ll see what I mean about pauses.
Also, I want you to really understand and master why this firm should hire you. Record yourself. When you hear something you don’t like it means that you have a weakness regarding that concept. Think about it and work on it. Even if they don’t ask you this specific question make a point of letting them know why they should hire you.
You need to get rid of tension in your body & specifically in your vocal mechanism. Do relaxation exercises and make “being relaxed” a habit in your life. Job interviews make people tense. They literally tighten their vocal mechanisms which results in a pitch that’s too high and a voice that’s very thin-essentially lacking executive presence.
It also unfortunately makes people talk too fast, forget what they wanted to say, and use closed body language. The tension that we feel before & during job interviews can cause our skill level to drop.
What happens as a result of this tension and our skill levels dropping & talking too fast, etc. is that people don’t see how amazing you are. You can’t have your interviewers not seeing how amazing you are. Not if you want to nail your job interview.
Don’t just be on time. Be early. Get to the waiting area & check in with the receptionist. You can use this time to do your deep breathing exercises. Also, use the time to do your relaxation exercises. Employers want to hire people who are early. If you plan to be on time anything can happen (traffic, accidents, subway is slow…) & you may be late. No one wants to hire someone who’s late for the job interview.
Your Speech & Voice can Make or Break You
Use lots of air when you speak. Practice with a recorder-you’ll be surprised at how you sound so authoritative, yet warm. Speech is acoustically air molecules that vibrate. The more air you use the more resonance you have thus the more authoritative you sound.
Just Replace Your Filler Words with Pauses.
Use pauses. I can’t emphasize this enough. Pauses give you a chance to take a breath (which provides your brain with oxygen!) And remember this: when you’re speaking too fast & without pauses the interviewer can’t keep up. You’re in the future, your listeners are in the past. Taking a breath keeps everyone in the present.
Make sure the end of your utterances are short in duration and quiet in volume. This eliminates “upspeak” and drag.” Drag is little known and oft used. It’s when a speaker lengthens their last syllable in a phrase or sentence.
Be concise. When you keep your concepts light & clean it helps the interviewer to understand your message. You need this to nail your job interview!
Master Your Small Talk
Small talk is anything but small. Most people are afraid of it or despise it. That’s because they’re doing it wrong. You can learn to use small talk to instantly create very strong bonds with others.
I arm my clients with an arsenal of anecdotes. But you can do this yourself. You just master some stories that get others thinking and talking. Did you ever hear someone tell a story & you instantly wanted to tell the story that it made you think of? That person is likely a great story-teller.
Use this technique to get others to relate to you. Keep your stories super short but really engaging.
Use Warm & Open Body Language
Make sure you sit with your back straight, your arms apart & your head held high. Sit at the back of your chair. This will not only make the interviewers instinctively trust & like you but it will cause you to feel more confident. It’s science. 🙂
When I was in 11th grade I was so excited to go to the amusement park at the end of the year. I looked forward to it the entire school year. My friends & I were there, having a great time & decided to get our picture taken as we were going down a roller coaster. The photographer said, “Don’t put your head down, keep your head up! People put their head down when they’re afraid and we won’t be able to see you in the pic.” Well wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t keep my head up! I physically had no control over my head! My friends were so mad that I had ruined the picture!
Your Body Can Control You or You Can Control it.
On that roller coaster my fear controlled my body. I knew I needed to keep my head up but I couldn’t do it. Obviously I needed to do my relaxation exercises. 🙂 It took a few roller coaster rides to get my head to stay up, but when I did I was really able to enjoy the ride.
I had an amazing female c-suite client who was often in a board room with only men. She was aware that she was really quite nervous. The first thing we did was train her to relax in that room. That included her body language. She initially was unable to sit at the back of her chair! She sat at the edge of her seat. It took a couple of weeks to get her at the back of the chair. But when she did she had so much more control over her body, her speech & the others in the room. She became a leader.
So remember, don’t cross your legs or your arms. Keep your extremities as far from midline as possible. This results in your being able to keep control of yourself, your speech & other people. That’s leadership.
Always be open to hearing what your interviewers are really saying. When you’re not ultra clear as to what they’ve said, do repeat what you think they said in different language. Using different words. This show’s them that you’re thoughtful & not impulsive.
Take a beat to process their questions before answering. Don’t be afraid of silence. What may seem like an eternity to you is probably just a second. This gives you the opportunity to design your answer concisely & with persuasion. The sooner you start speaking the greater the chance that you’ll use fillers, run on sentences and really big no-content words. The ones I call grammar glue (ands, ifs & buts.)
Here’s how to eliminate filler words forever.
Leave some air space for them to react to what you’ve said. All this is part of the recipe for you to nail your job interview!
Have Intelligent Questions Prepared
How stupid do you feel when the interviewer says, “Do you have any questions for me?” And you’re all, “No, not right now; I’ll email you if I think of any…” If you want to nail your job interview you should have questions prepared.
Another article from Monster has some questions you can ask during an interview. I think a few of them are a bit obnoxious & could be toned down. Just use them as examples to help you in your specific job quest. This results in your interviewers seeing that you’re really interested and the right person for the job.
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