Ironically, you’ll always come across best in interviews for jobs you don’t really want. Why? Because unconsciously you’ve become the buyer rather than the seller.
In every interview there’s a seller and a buyer. Most applicants aproach job interviews as if they’re the seller, and a desperate seller at that. They come in eager to convince the interviewer that they’re the right person for the job. They give total control over to the interviewer. That’s why job interviews are incredibly nerve-racking for most people. They feel there’s so much at stake, they have so little time to make an impression, and they have no control over their fate.
When you consciously approach the interview as if you’re the buyer, there’s an incredible transformation. It’s only human nature that if you act like the buyer, the interviewer will start acting like the seller. Suddenly you’re in control of your own destiny; you’re deciding whether this is the right job for you, rather than the interviewer deciding whether you’re right for the job. The interviewer actually begins to recruit you.
Obviously, approaching a job interview this way takes a great deal of confidence and self-assurance. If you’ve been out of work for months and you’re worried about hungry mouths at home, that degree of aplomb can be tough to come by. Still, it’s essentila you appear that confident, even if you’re not.
Years of advising job-hunting clients have led me to arrive at the following eight points as the keys to turning the job interview around and getting an offer.
LOOK FOR THE OFFER, NOT THE JOB
Don’t clutter your mind with internal debates about whether or not you want the job. Don’t start worrying about you’ll fit in or what the commute will be like. Your objective in a job interview should be to land a job offer, not a job itself. do everything you can to impress and dazzle the interviewer. Only after receiving an offer should you even start to think about whether or not you really want the job.
I don’t mean that you should be smart-alecky or cocky, I mean being self assured. Studies have shown that the most critical time in an interview is the first three minutes. Often the decision to hire or not hire will be made within that short a time frame. After all, your résumé has already been reviewed and passed scrutiny.
The importance of first impressions amplifies the need for self-assurance. Arrive on time, with a smile, shake hands firmly, and make eye contact. Your dress and grooming should be impeccable, and your perfume or cologue should be understated. When you leave the interview, you don’t want your interviewers to smell you for the next hour while they discuss your merits.
Don’t forget the power of body language. Lean forward when making a point or answering a question. Sit back, break eye contact to indicate you’re thinking, and take your time when pondering a question. when you’re ready to answer, reestablish eye contact. Don’t slouch or cross your arms or legs, and try to keep your hands from fluttering about. I once interviewed a job candidate who had an annoying habit of constantly putting her hands in front of her face and making “quote” signs with her fingers to emphasize what she was saying. She “didn’t” get the job.
HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR
Humor takes the edge off any situation. I’m not suggesting you go in and do a stand-up routine. I’m just pointing out the you need to relax, enjoy yourself, and let your personality show through. If you’re stiff as a board, the interviewer can only assume that you’re always that way. That is not an assumption that works in your favor. You want to show her that you’re good company in addition to being qualified for the job. A good sense of humor is a well-known sign of intelligence. What if the interviewer is humorless? In that case you probably wouldn’t want to work there anyway.
KNOW WHO YOU’RE SPEAKING WITH
An interview is like any other semiadversarial situation: the more you know about your opponent, the stronger your position. You can research the company by going through recent annual reports and product literature and visiting its Web site. Look up articles about the company to get a sense of its position within the industry and learn of nay issues it might be facing. The more knowledge you can naturally demosntrate during your interview, the better an improssion you’ll make. Even if all your knowledge isn’t made manifest, it will boost your confidence, and that will be obvious.
You should also try to learn as much as possible about your interviewers. It makes it much easier to make small talk. It also allows you to have meaningful discussion about their relationship to the position you’re interviewing for. Granted, it’s not always possible to get much information, particularly if you have no mutual acquaintances. But if you’re interviewing for another position within the company you already work for, if the company is in the same industry as you’re currently working in, or if the company is local, you should be able to get plenty of information on any individual interviewer simply by tapping into your network. No man or woman is an island.