Seven Tips For Your Next Job Interview

I was recently asked to conduct a few job interviews at my work.  It’s been years since I last interviewed for a job, and seeing how young some of the candidates were, I forgot just how long I’ve been in the workforce.  In sitting through these interviews, a few things stood out in my mind.  If you’re preparing for a job interview in the near future, here are a few of my suggestions:

Show some personality.  I don’t mean tell jokes or be obnoxious, but show some life.  Smile.  Lean forward.  Have some enthusiasm.  When someone’s asking you about your family or favorite activities, it shouldn’t look like you’re going through an IRS audit.

Ask questions.  At the end of an interview, if you don’t have any questions for the interviewers, it comes off like: 1) you’re not that interested in the job; and 2) you really don’t care if you get the job or not.  Your follow-up questions are a sign to the interviewer(s) that you’re engaged and are serious about working for the company.

Activities matter.  You’re not sleeping at the office, so what are you doing in your off time?This is another opportunity to display a little bit of your personality.  Interests show that you have a life outside of work.  Plus, you might just have something in common with whomever is interviewing you – and connecting in a job interview is critical.

Know why you’re there.  If you can’t tell me why you’d be a great fit for the position or if you can’t tell me why you want to work for the company, these are red flags.  This screams, “I am unprepared.” Or worse, “I just want a job.”  Don’t make it look like you sent a thousand resumes out and you happened to luck out with this company.

Answer the question.  If you have taken the time to prepare for the interview, that’s great.  But don’t be so stuck on your answers that you can’t adapt or be flexible to a question you haven’t prepared for.  In other words, don’t try cramming in your pre-programmed answer to a question that doesn’t even relate. For instance:

Interviewer: What kind of management style do you prefer?

Candidate: I’m a team player.  If I’m given a task, I’ll work until it’s completed to the best of my ability.  If I have any problems, I’ll go and ask one of my co-workers.  I can work independently and am a real go-getter.

Huh?  You didn’t answer the question.

Show that you can hit the ground running.  We’re hiring someone because we need help.  You might not be a perfect candidate, you might not have all of the skills or experience, but if you give the impression you are ready and willing to do whatever it takes – that goes a long way.  Saying you’re willing to work late or learn what you need to learn with enthusiasm is appealing – especially for a department that is desperate for help.

Be careful with your grammar.   Believe me, I’m guilty of this one, too.  But then again, I’m not the one in the interview hot seat.  The knock on Gen Y job candidates is that they are poor face-to-face communicators and that they prefer to have a conversation electronically.  So it doesn’t help when your answers are interspersed with “uh,” “like,” “umm,” and my favorite, “You know what I’m sayin’?”  As in, “I’m down for you to hook me up with a job.  You know what I’m sayin’?”

The fact that you’ve been invited to interview for a position is a great sign.  It means something in your resume or job application piqued enough interest to warrant a closer look.  Your interview is a chance to seal the deal.  It would be a shame to throw the opportunity away on mistakes that could have been avoided.  Get excited, come prepared, kill the interview and go home to answer that call from HR offering you the job.

What are some of your best job interview tips?