1. Do Your Research
I can’t tell you the number of times when a candidate has asked questions about the organization I’m hiring for - questions that they should know, if they had googled the company and done their research. More than being disappointing, it can actually take the candidate out of the running for the position.
When you’re asked in an interview, ‘So, what interested you about this job/ Why do you want to join (insert department name here)?’ what they’re wanting to hear is how your values align with theirs and how you’ll contribute to the great work they already do. For example, speak to the company’s mission statement and how you would contribute to upholding it. Know who the department/company is, what they stand for, and why you want to be a part of it.
2. Pay Attention to Your Body Language
Interviews make most of us nervous, and our nervousness can show up in unintended ways such as fidgeting or causing us to be so stressed we can’t relax and we come off as robots. Imagine the candidate who continuously taps a pen on the table, or conversely has no movement or facial expressions at all - and may not even be recognizing that they are doing it. Paying attention to how you present yourself, starting from when you first enter the interview room, will keep the interviewers focused on your answers and less on possible detractors. The goal in an interview is to build rapport with the interview team by connecting on a personal level. Think of when you meet someone for the first time and they leave a great impression - they smiled, made eye contact, and seemed relaxed and confident. That is your goal in an interview.
3. Watch the Interview Panel for Cues
One long standing piece of advice I give candidates is when the interviewer puts the pen down (and stops writing), stop talking. The interviewers should seem engaged and interested in your responses; any deviation from this should be a clue that you’re off target (or off topic). Body language is important on the interviewer side as well, although sometimes this can be more tricky because they are not being evaluated - you are. Paying attention to subtle clues the panel may be giving can be helpful in keeping you focused and on point.
4. Have an Arsenal of STAR Answers Ready
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. These are the responses that are expected when you’re in a behavioural interview, and you’re being asked to relay past experiences in various scenarios. For example: Tell us about the most challenging person you’ve had to work with - why were they challenging and how did you handle it? Be specific, and use the STAR method to guide your answers. Come prepared with a good handful of situations that you can use as examples focused on the key competencies of the role you’re applying for (ie: conflict resolution, how you handle stress, working under pressure, decision making, and so on.)
5. Close with your ‘Value Add’ Statement
This is similar to an elevator pitch in many ways and tells an interviewer why you are the best candidate. Consider that the panel is likely interviewing many who have similar backgrounds and experiences as you: how do you stand out from the pack? What do you bring to the table that others might not? This is meant to be a short two-minute pitch that leaves them with a positive impression and drives them to write down additional comments on their evaluation about how you differ from other candidates, and always follows any questions you’ve had for them.
Written by: Jana Tulloch, CPHR
May 1 2019