So you have got a stellar resume and cover letter, one that whet the appetite of the recruiter so much that she chooses to call you in for an in-person interview. Now the rubber meets the road, because this is the event that can make the difference between a job offer or a job decline.
The goal of this posting is to talk about what constitues a good interview. The implication is, then, that doing the opposite is what constitutes a bad interview. Let's get to it.
Dress for Success
For the record, this does NOT mean that you have to wear a business suit and carry a briefcase to your appointment. "Success" in this case is defined as in accordance with the company culture that you're interviewing with. The reality is that some companies are young and hip, and they actively seek to avoid the typical traipsing of corporate America: business suits, bulky briefaces, full-length dresses covering everything up, and more.
How do you dress according the culture you're interviewing with? This is where the research comes in. You should have already done this before you even sent in your resume to express interest, but just in case you didn't, this is the time to get to researching! Sites like Glassdoor and Indeed can uncover employee sentiments that can give an indication of what the culture is like.
But what if everyone in the office dresses in string bikinis? Of course, you're not going to follow suit. Just be mindful of the people you're interviewing with.
One of the reasons you want to research is so that you can formulate meaningful interview questions. You do know that you should go to the meeting with questions, right? If not, you want to keep in mind that you are interviewing the company just as it's interviewing with you. Both parties want to find out as much important information about the other as possible because an good decision need to be made on both sides.
For the interview questions, the number of them depends on the type of job you're applying to. For example, first-line representative interviews for a call-center positions will have fewer questions than those for an executive vice president. No matter the position, though, you want to ask the right questions. Here are some examples:
What does the day-to-day aspects of the job look like?
Why is this position available/Why did the last person vacate the position?
What's the schedule for the position?
What's the company's dress attire?
What does the company culture look like to you?
What skills do you feel are important for the prospective employee?
Are there any other questions I can answer to ensure that I have given you a full picture of who I am?
There are many more that you can ask for yourself.
This is more important than the words that come out of your mouth. You may speak a good game, but if you spend the entire session slouched in your chair, this will not look good and will not bode well for the likelihood of getting a call back.
Make sure to sit at attention, but be comfortable. If you're sitting at a table, have all necessary documents laid out so that you can easily share them with your interviewer. No matter how nerve-wracking the session is, try to maintain your composure. When answering questions, it's okay to gesticulate, just not wildly.
Keep a positive expression on your face. This doesn't imply that you have to be Polly McSunshine. Be real, but don't have negative expressions throughout the experience. No one wants to interact with a sourpuss.
This is not the time to be timid. Speak using a full voice. Not necessarily booming, but just so much that you can be clearly understood without the need to have the interviewer ask you to repeat yourself.
Vocal inflections go a long way to being successful in the session. Sound excited when you talk about yourself. Be a little more serious when you are reflecting on challenge areas you have to communicate about your past positions. Don't speak with temerity.
There are different schools of thought surrounding how you shake hands. Some people suggest that your grip should be tighter than that of an MMA fighter. Others suggest that you take it easy. We say that you follow suit with how your interviewer handles himself/herself. If you are the recipient of a firm handshake, reciprocate. If the handshake is looser, that's okay, too. Follow suit. The handshake is one of the first ways in an interview that you can make a lasting impression.
Use Positive Language
Make sure you're keeping it positive through and through. What does this mean? Focus on active words. Without overdoing it, use some industry jargon to connect. Talk about what you can do, what you can achieve, how you can get things done--rather than what's not possible, how terrible your last job was, or how poorly you were paid in the past.
This is also the time to be mindful of your grammar. No one is expecting perfection--perfect grammar does not exist, anyway--but you can ensure that your subjects and verbs agree, that your sentences are parallel, and that your verbs are as active as possible.
If the interview goes well because you conducted yourself like a profesional, you increase your likelihood of getting a call back, assuming you determine it to be a good fit to work there in the first place. Dressing for success, creating effective interview questions, minding your body language will do the trick every time.