(Photo by Max Abadian)
Job interviews can sometimes feel like a pop quiz: you never quite know what questions will be thrown at you, and you either get it or you don't. But you don't have to have a cheat sheet to put your best foot forward -- communicating your competence and enthusiasm goes beyond just your answers! Here are 6 tactics to employ during an interview that will boost your chances of getting an "A"... and the job!
Give a firm handshake. Nothing communicates confidence like a good firm handshake. You are eager and know you are the best person for the job, all of that really can be communicated with one brief grasp of the hand. When greeted, don't hesitate to be the first to extend you arm. Hold your hand straight and firm -- not limp or rigid -- and allow your thumb to lock with the other person's, give one firm squeeze, and let go. Don't allow any lingering or squeezing after the initial contact, and you'll be on your way.
Smile. Don't be afraid to come across as friendly. The person on the other side of the desk will see a lot of nervous candidates -- a smile puts your interviewer at ease and sets a congenial tone. You don't have to be the life of the party or the office greeter, but it's important to communicate that you would be pleasant to interact with on a daily basis.
Opening Banter. A simple "how's it going?" or answering the interviewer's opening question is just good manners. But don't get caught in a trap of back-and-forth chatter -- follow up with one appropriate question, but don't prolong it. You want to get to the interview, it's your time to shine!
Act like a human being. You are human after all, so don't act like a robot. Many people are under the false impression that taking on a formal attitude or pattern of speech communicates professionalism and competence. the reality is that it often comes across as overly formal and contrived, and the last thing you want is your interviewer wondering what you are really like. Your behavior in an interview should be more closely akin to meeting your significant other's parents for the first time: You want them to see you in your best light without your boyfriend staring at you, wondering what you did with his girlfriend.
Employ The Star Method. The Star Method is a technique used by interviewers to more accurately predict future on the job performance. Look for on opportunity to highlight experiences on your resume that you are proud of and expand on them using The Star Method. Here is how it works:
1. Situation: present the challenge or situation in which you found yourself.
2. Task: clearly articulate your goal or what you were trying to achieve in this situation.
3. Action: Explain why you chose your course of action and why you didn't choose the alternatives.
4. Results: Be clear that you achieved your goal and explain what you learned and how you have been able to apply what you learned since.
Don't be afraid to ask for clarification. What's more embarrassing, A.) jumping into a response that doesn't answer the question or B.) asking the questioner for clarification so you can give them the best possible answer? The answer is always B. Let's face it, most job interviews are squeezed between a meeting at 2pm and and a meeting at 3pm and the interviewer may not have had a chance to craft perfect questions in the first place. Asking for clarification on a question communicates that you care about giving your future employer your best.
Next time you get that call that you have been eagerly hoping for and dreading all at the same time-- take courage! Now you have the skills that will get you through the interview and on to employment.