Develop Your Personal Themes for the Job Interview
There are ten basic types of information sought by recruiters in a typical job interview, knowing what these points are, and being able to readily discuss how each point relates to you, will leave you better prepared and in greater control of the interview process. Think of this information as your sales pitch. Each is designed to showcase your best skills and qualifications. They will help you develop a strategy for selling your qualifications in virtually any interview situation.
- Passion for the Work
Ask yourself, “Why am I interested in working in this field/in this industry?” Do you feel a passion for the work/organization? If so, why? Give specific examples of the things that excite you.
- Motivation and Purpose
Interviewers will want to know why you want to work for their particular company. Ask yourself, “Why do I want this interview?” Don’t simply repeat your resume and employment history. What’s the most compelling case you can make to prove your interest? Have you used the company’s products or talked to its customers or competitors?
- Skills and Experience
Consider your key skills and how you’ll use them in this job. Avoid clichés and generalities; instead, offer specific evidence. Think about your weaknesses and how you can minimize and balance them with your strengths. Try to describe yourself as objectively as possible.
- Diligence and Professionalism
Describe your professional character, including thoroughness, diligence, and accountability. Give proof that you persevere to see important projects through, and that you achieve desired results. Demonstrate how you gather resources, how you predict obstacles, and how you handle challenges.
- Creativity and Leadership
Offer evidence of your effectiveness, including creativity, initiative, resourcefulness, and leadership. What examples can you provide for each? Focus on how you overcome problems, take advantage of opportunities that might otherwise be overlooked, and foster cooperation to gain the support of others to accomplish goals.
- Compatibility with the Job
Discuss your specific qualifications for the job. How well do they fit the requirements of the position? Focus on what you are seeking in your next job.
- Personality and Cultural Compatibility
Consider your personality on the job. How do you fit in with other types of personalities? What types of people would enjoy working with you for hours at a time? How would the company’s customers or clients react to you? Your goal is to develop responses that make the interviewer feel confident there won’t be any surprises after hire about your personality on the job.
- Problem-Solving Ability Offer proof, with examples, of your problem-solving ability. How have you resolved difficult issues in the past? Are you practical in how you apply technical skills? Are you realistic? Focus on real issues, on logical value-added solutions, on practical outcomes of your work, and on realistic measures of judging these outcomes.
Think about your initiative and accomplishments. Offer examples in which you’ve delivered more than what was expected. Don’t give long descriptions of situations; instead, focus your answer on the action you took and the positive results you obtained (Situation-Action-Result). If you were hired, what situations would you handle especially well? What can you contribute to the organization?
- Career Aspirations
Tailor your aspirations to the realities of this particular job and its career path. Avoid listing job titles or offering unrealistic performance deadlines. Instead, reiterate the skills and strengths you want to develop further. Do you want cross-functional experience, a larger budget, or more supervisory responsibility? Why would you be effective with that additional experience?
Non-Verbal Communication “Actions Speak Louder than Words” - What You Don’t Say Can be as Important as What you Do.”
Following are five key non-verbal communication skills, ranked in order of importance:
- Handshake – You’ve probably heard it before but it is worthwhile stating again. Keep your hand straight and firm; not too firm that they wince, but no limp handshakes.
- Eye Contact – Maintain eye contact without staring. If you look away while listening, it shows lack of interest and a short attention span. If you fail to maintain eye contact while speaking, at a minimum it shows lack of confidence in what you are saying and at worst may send the subtle message that you are lying. Practice, ask others to watch you.
- Facial Expressions – Don’t forget to smile – sounds easy but often times when we are nervous or stressed we don’t realize we are not smiling. You don’t need to smile continuously but keep it coming back. Practice being aware of the expressions you are making, frowning, raising and lowering of your eyebrows, or turning your nose up. Practice the interview in front of the mirror and watch your facial expressions or better yet, video tape yourself.
- Posture - Posture signals your confidence and power potential. Stand tall, walk tall, and most of all, sit tall. When standing, stand up straight.
- Sitting - Sit at the front edge of the chair, leaning slightly forward. This will speak volumes about your interest and motivation. Don’t slouch or sink into the chair. Keep your arms at your side or in your lap. Men, it is best to keep your legs uncrossed. Women you may cross your legs one knee over the other, do not cross them ankle on knee
- Gestures - Contrary to popular belief, gestures should be used sparingly during the interview. When you do use gestures, make sure that they are natural and meaningful.
- Space - Recognize the boundaries of your personal space and that of others. Approximately arm’s length is typical, be prepared, however, not to back up or move away from someone who has a personal space that is smaller than your own. Hang in there, take a deep breath, and relax.
Download the complete Interviewing Guide (PDF)