Posted January 13, 2014 by

A Graduate’s Guide to Interviews

Young female job applicant waiting for an interview

Young female job applicant waiting for an interview. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Here are 7 key points to remember when you have been invited for an interview.

1. They Want You

One of the first things to appreciate when invited by a prospective employer for an interview is that they already think you are qualified to do the job. That’s why they want to meet you. Interviews are far more about seeing whether you will fit into the company culture and add something unique to the business.

2. Be Authentic and Disclose

Be you – don’t try to be what you think they might be looking for. It’s hard work and you will be caught out. Be conscious to disclose information about yourself that will help your interviewer build up a picture of what drives you. Mentioning that you bungeed over the Grand Canyon will certainly disclose that you are happy to take risks. Consider what may be relevant to disclose before the meeting – that way you’ll know when to mention it.

3. Actively Listen

There is listening and then there is actively listening. We often only use a fraction of our listening capacity in an interview situation because we are often nervous and focused on our own behaviour.

Actively listening means you are focusing on everything and also responding to it. It also means you are displaying behavioral patterns that we instinctively associate with someone who is listening. Nodding, smiling and making recognition noises like ‘uh huh ’and ‘mmm”- all speakers want to see these active listening signals. If we don’t see these then we tend to self-interrupt as we may feel we are not interesting. That’s not what you want to create!

Ask a friend to reflect on your active listening skills. Ask them to give you a number between 1 and 10 representing how well they think you listen. If they say you average a 4, see if you can authentically make it a seven. Some people can show few physical signs of listening even if they are – this come across as disengaged and uninterested. Furthermore too much nodding and agreement can be seen as disingenuous.

4. Use Open Questions

Open questions are an incredibly powerful tool, and it’s highly likely your interviewer will use them on you. Unlike a closed question that promotes a one-word answer, open questions require a longer answer. When you come to ask questions yourself making them open will help you create greater engagement. Here is a really useful acronym – TED Tell, Explain and Describe. “Tell me what you expect from someone who takes on this role?” Remember that people are proud of the companies they work for – so invite them time to talk about what they do.

5.  Own Your Personal Space

Interviews are often set up with a single chair for you to sit in and a panel of people sitting behind a table. Moving the chair you sit in, even if it’s only to pull it out and place it back in the same position, will give you ownership of the chair. You will seem comfortable and confident. Try this out for yourself with a friend and notice the difference. If you are offered a drink take it. It may possibly give you the chance to move around your space, to another table or to comment on the amazing view from the offices.

6.  How Confident Are You?

It’s been shown time and time again that confident people tend to excel within a business. Why? Well we trust confident people because they seem sure of themselves and their ideas. Confidence for most of us is a moveable feast. Bad news, empty bank accounts, or relationships are three of the many things that can affect our confidence on a daily basis. The great thing about confidence is that we all have times in our lives when we have felt really confident. We know what we are like when we are confident. We can also recognize it in others, often before anyone speaks. Think of A list actors, politicians, CEOs. These people often have a high level of confidence and if we think of using numbers again (point 3 above), they are often at 10 on the scale.

What is your number? Play with your number. Get used to flexing your level of confidence.  During your interview you need to match the numbers you see around you.

7.  Smile

Never underestimate the power of a smile, it is welcoming and above all you’ll look happy to be there. Nerves can often cause smiles to evaporate, especially for men.

Josh writes on a wide range of topics within the realms of employment and digital. This article was written with Edison Red in mind, a presentation skills company in London, UK.

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Posted in Advice for Candidates, Career Advice, Interviewing, Job Search | Tagged Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,