Work That Interview

Monday, March 1, 2010 - 09:07

Few of us enjoy being interviewed for a job, but there are ways of helping yourself during the process. Kelly Magowan provides some winning tips.

In job interviews do you talk too much, too little or say just the right amount to land you the job? Do you say the right things to the most appropriate people or do you shoot yourself in the foot?

What you say, and who you share it with, during the job interview process can work for or against you. There is no magic formula to follow to get the right balance, but rather an ability to read the interviewer and be discerning about who you share what information with about your abilities.

When most of us leave the interview we play back in our minds the questions asked and our response. Did we give the right answers? Were we too brief in our responses? Did we prattle on too much?

Ultimately, we wonder if we came across as the right person for the job. Rarely do we question if we shared the appropriate information with the appropriate person. We simply assume we are doing the right thing by selling ourselves and our abilities to the interviewer. Here are some tips for next time.

Read the interviewer's body language

During the interview it is advisable to read the body language and listen to the language used by the interviewer and respond accordingly. Mirroring how they engage with you is more likely to result in a favourable outcome. If they are fairly reserved and softly spoken they may not respond well to someone who is overly gregarious.

People tend to like and, ultimately, hire those more like themselves, so temper your personal style to the interviewer where possible.

For example, while you may be a confident person in the interview, which one would assume is a good thing, it can work against you if the interviewer is not a self-confident person themselves. If you come across too confident and experienced they may see you as a threat to them and their job; hence, you won't get hired. However, being likeable and, in some instances, non-threatening to the status quo can land you the job. Such knowledge may guide how you behave and respond in interviews.

Assess the interviewer's motivations

One area that is not often considered by job interviewees is to assess the interviewer's own point of view and their position related to the one you are being interviewed for. Knowing who to display your knowledge to is crucial. It is more likely that those more senior to you are going to be more receptive to a confident go-getter than someone who is your peer or at a similar level, someone that you may eventually be competing with for promotions. So consider adapting your interview responses to the decision-making level or seniority of the interviewer.

An intense judging process

While you need to be yourself during the interview, remember that interviews themselves are highly unnatural situations. The interviewer is making rapid judgments about you and may have preconceived opinions of you before you have even met. Hence, everything you can do to mitigate negative judgments being formed is advisable.

Throughout the interview decisions are being formed based on your appearance, language, body language, question responses and your overall manner throughout the meeting. No wonder very few people enjoy being interviewed; even the most seasoned interviewer generally dislikes being on the other side.

Balance confidence and expertise

Getting the right balance in how you come across, particularly through how you answer the interview questions, is a tough balancing act.

It is unlikely that you will be hired if you are too shy and reserved and, correspondingly, if you are so full of energy and confidence that you are completely over the top. Either extreme is not desirable during the interview process. However, I will qualify this by saying they have very little impact once you are in the job. These extremes of personality can certainly work well in the workplace but they tend to not work well in the interview process.

Generally, round one (and sometimes round two) interviews are conducted by those at a more junior or peer level; it's only at the end that you meet with the real decision-maker higher up in the organisation. It is at this level you can unleash your expertise and really sell yourself without hesitation. Remember, only the most evolved of us are happy to hire someone who has the potential to outshine us.