In the Interview
Take your cues from the interviewer and match the amount of eye contact you make with theirs. This is especially important when answering “difficult or negative” type of questions such as why did you leave your last position, or describe something you think needs improvement? Your honesty will help earn the interviewers respect.
TIP: For those who are not comfortable looking directly at someone’s eye, looking right above the eye brows gives the impression that you are looking at the eyes and offers the same respect that looking someone in the eye does.
Throughout the interview, especially when interviewer is leaning forward, raising voice or showing enthusiasm which demonstrates a key point, re-iterate your interest and excitement by mirroring their behavior. Make comments like: this sounds great, I would love to work here, this sounds like a great opportunity or a challenging position which I know I can handle etc. Showing your interest in the company and position can only improve your chances.
Adapt to your surroundings
Things to avoid during the interview
- Arms crossed over chest
- Constantly shifting position
- Frowning or sighing
- Exaggerated head shaking
- Playing with jewellery or ties
- Smoothing hair or mustache
- Shrugging or pointing
- Excessive blinking
- Being too scripted and formal in Tone
- Trying to use big words that are confusing and poorly organized.
- Being too wordy or long-winded
- Having your interview seem like a lecture
- Being unfocused and rambling on
- Avoid simple “yes or no” answers
All these elements individually or combined will lead the interviewer to question your honesty and doubt your suitability for the position. Your interview should be in a conversational tone which is why smiling is so important. 95% of people forget to smile during an interview because they are nervous. Smiling helps release endorphins that will help you relax, create a friendly conversation instead of question answer, question answer and when you smile people tend to like you more. Vary your answers from 30 seconds to 5 minutes using examples wherever possible.
One of my clients was looking for a graphic designer. I spent an hour coaching the candidate. When the candidate showed up, the first question was telling me about this job. The candidate answered: “I don’t know why I got paid for this job, I didn’t think my work was that good”. To make matters worse, the candidate never brought her portfolio. Needless to say, the interview was over before it started.
Asking for Clarification
If you are uncertain about how to answer a question, ask for clarification. This will show that you are attentive and paying attention to detail. You can ask the interviewer to repeat the question or what the interviewer means. Think back to your examples and use them wherever possible when answering a question.
I was interviewing a candidate for an accounting position. The candidate was of Asian background. It seemed the only answer he can give regardless of the question was accounts payable accounts receivable and reconciliation. When I asked what your favorite parts of are being an accountant he answered accounts payable accounts receivable reconciliation. I then asked what’s the most difficult part of is being an accountant he answered accounts payable accounts receivable reconciliation. I then asked what is your least favorite part of accounting to which he answered: “accounts payable, accounts receivable reconciliation. I stopped the interview right there and I let the candidate know that his English will prevent him from finding any job through a recruiter or on his own. He must go study English for six months before anybody will work with him. This candidate turned around to me and said thank you; you are the first recruiter to be completely honest with me. Six months later he came back to me and asked if I would test his English and that he only wanted to work with me since I took the time to explain why he is not getting hired. I found him a job a week later.
TIP: Today’s companies tend to focus on behavior-based questions (see sample behavior questions) where specific examples are used to relate more to the company’s needs as behavioral questions give a more accurate picture of a candidate’s ability. Remember the 5 situation examples when answering these questions and relate how the examples you picked relate to the company and position you are applying for. Take your time when answering these questions. Always be honest with your answers but avoid putting people or companies down. If you are overly negative about previous employers and people the interviewer will question your ability to fit into the company culture.
TIP: Whenever possible, get excited and show interest when the interviewer is describing the company or position and especially when relating your examples to the position you are applying for. Once the interviewer has completed asking all their questions you should ask 3 – 10 questions back of the interviewer. This is very important in showing the interviewer that you have a genuine interest in the company and the position.