How to Ace the Interview
By Bob McIndoe
In last month’s blog, I discussed the importance of thorough preparation for a job interview. This month, we’ll be continuing that discussion with some practical, easily applicable tips on how to act during the interview.
The first thing I always recommend to prospective job candidates takes place before the interview even officially begins, and it is this: be kind and friendly to the receptionist when you enter the building. Mind your manners, smile, make eye contact and quite simply, be nice. This rule applies to every person you interact with from the moment you enter the building.
The reason for that – beyond simply being the right thing to do – is that some savvy recruiters make a point of speaking with the receptionist or with other points of contact you’ve had throughout the interview process. If the receptionist reports back to the recruiter that you were rude, nasty, or unkind, it will certainly not reflect well on you.
Once you actually enter the room and greet the interviewer, the same rules apply. Smile, relax, and be personable. (Also, check back to my last blog for a tip on how long an ideal handshake should last.) Smile at and with the interviewer or each member of the interview panel, if there is more than one person interviewing you.
Get comfortable in your seat, but practice good posture and be sure not to slouch. Be honest and forthright in your answers – and if you get stumped on a question and can’t think of an immediate response, don’t panic. It’s perfectly OK to take a moment to formulate an answer; there is no need to rush. Some candidates feel the need to avoid any dead air during the interview, and will hastily blurt something out to fill the silence. But taking a few moments of thoughtful silence before you answer is certainly acceptable.
It’s also important to have your objective in mind as you go through the interview. In all interviews –regardless of whether it’s for your dream job or not – your objective should be to get a job offer. In fact, you should do anything necessary – as long as it’s legally, ethically and morally appropriate – to get a job offer. This is because until you receive an offer, you have no control or bargaining power over the process.
Once an offer is made, you can begin to discuss and negotiate terms. For instance, if the job requires a very long commute, perhaps you will be able to negotiate the ability to work out of the company’s downtown office instead of the location that was initially discussed. You never know how they terms may change in your favour through discussion and negotiation, once the job offer is yours.
Another key reason to always strive to receive a job offer is simply this: practice leads to success. Maybe this interview isn’t for your dream job – but it’s very good practice to hone your interview skills so that when the dream job comes along, you will know how to get it.
To close the interview, it’s important to always remember to actually ask for the job. You can do this by saying something like “I am very interested in this opportunity and I would very much like to have the position offered to me.” Many recruiters, myself included, are reluctant to make a job offer to someone who has not actually asked for the job.
That’s no requirement that you have to take the job if you do receive an offer – at that point in the process, you can always accept or gently negotiate better and acceptable terms or politely decline (but don’t burn any bridges).