Your job interview performance is now a critical component of winning the position you applied for. Good preparation will help soothe the nerves and practicing your interview technique will help you develop self confidence. The first thing you should do though is to congratulate yourself on being selected for interview! Through your resume or perhaps previous discussion with the employer, you have obviously generated sufficient interest in your abilities and/or experience to be seriously considered for the position. Now you just need to demonstrate to the employer that they are making a sound decision in considering hiring you.
Whether you are having an interview with a single employer or perhaps are required to answer questions in front of a group of people (frequently called a panel) your first purpose remains the same, develop rapport. This essentially means through your appearance, speech and body language you encourage the panel to like you. This is crucial to successful job interview performance as subconsciously people begin to form an opinion of you within 45 to 90 seconds of meeting you.
So how do you develop rapport? First through your body language. You want to send a message to your interviewer that shows sincerity, focus on achievement, confidence and a high energy level. You can demonstrate these in several ways through maintaining non-threatening eye contact, sitting straight and relaxed with unfolded arms, minimising nervous habits, smiling (if you have a radiant one, use it to the full), using a warm and relaxed tone when answering questions and listening carefully to the questions asked. You can also build rapport by showing interest in the interviewers and if within a panel situation by directing your response and making gentle eye contact with them.
Your job interview performance will also be enhanced by being prepared to use silence as a strategy to allow you sufficient time to think about a question before you answer. This not only gives you time to think and structure an appropriate answer but also helps you to control your interview performance. When answering questions it is also important to provide structured answer’s that are not only relevant to the question but ideally in relation to the position that you are being interviewed for. A good answer should essentially take the form of a short story.
To help frame your answer’s a useful strategy is to remember a young child’s storybook. Essentially these storybooks have a beginning, middle and an end. By using this structure consistently, job interview performance can be improved significantly. Let me demonstrate the storybook strategy.
Once upon a time you were e.g. a retail assistant in a large chain store (this is your actual work location or position) then one day you noticed a leaking tin of olive oil was forming a large pool on the floor (this is a situation that you were faced with) to rectify this you immediately asked one of your teammates to collect the appropriate hazard signs and cleaning materials while you prevented people entering the potential hazard area which the olive oil posed. Your teammate arrived, signs were erected, and you remove the spilled oil. You then checked to confirm there were no other damaged tins (end result/outcome). Answers such as these improve job interview performance as they paint pictures in the interviewers minds which are relevant, easy to understand and answer the question concisely. This also makes it easy for the interviewer or panel to evaluate and score your performance.
An example such as this could be useful in demonstrating how you apply safety in the workplace or demonstrate your ability to be proactive, resourceful etc. it is also important to remember that not every answer to a question has to be some important event or wondrous achievement. Your answer only needs to be relevant and structured in a manner that the interviewer clearly understands. Therefore you need to demonstrate: where this example was taken from ie your work location or background. Your job interview performance can be strengthened further by stating what the situation was or activity you were involved in, the impact your actions had and the end result achieved.
Broken down like this you have a children’s story. Once upon a time someone had an adventure, something happened which had a positive result, and they all lived happily ever after. To add value to this strategy always include numbers where possible as this adds both interest and importance to your answers. For example: worked in the chain store with a turnover of several million dollars per annum, managed team of 10 people, streamlined processing by 7%, served dozens of customers on a daily basis etc.
On completion of the interview, I suggest that to enhance your job interview performance you have questions prepared for the panel or employer that are directly relevant and which demonstrate your understanding of the role. Alternatively, you could just make a closing statement (based on your understanding of the key qualities that the employer requires for the ideal candidate) why you would be highly suited to the position. This closing strategy should only take about 30 seconds and consist of your experience, your skills and how you can add value to the employer’s productivity or ability to make profit.
In future articles I will be covering the style of questioning and likely questions that you may be required to answer. Until then remember that whether you win the position that you apply for or not, the sun will still rise and the seas will still come in tomorrow. Your job interview performance is only a moment in time so never think that this is the only opportunity. There are opportunities every day, no matter where you are. The most important thing is to have faith in yourself and to actively seek out work that is both satisfying and rewarding to you. This does not mean that will always be a high-paying or important job. The most important thing for you to consider are will it provide additional skills or experience which will enable me to compete later at a higher level or am I satisfied to do this work because of the environment provided and the work itself.
Until next time remember….
What you believe yourself to be, you are
Be great, always!