The Job Interview: Performance


When you get into your interview, here's what to do to succeed.

Pray: Praying for peace and wisdom is a great way to begin the day of the interview.

Arrival: You want to arrive at the reception area 5-10 minutes ahead of the appointed time. Don’t arrive more than 10 minutes ahead though. If you live in an area (like Atlanta) where many factors can impact travel time, plan to arrive in the area at least 30 minutes ahead of time to allow extra time in the event something unexpected happens. During your test drive because familiar with the area and pick out a location at which to wait until it is time to drive to the company’s property and head into the reception area.

If you left for the destination with plenty of extra time and something catastrophic happens (an interstate is shut down due to an accident), call the interviewer at that moment (which should be well ahead of the appointed time) and explain the situation. Offer to contact him / her when you know more information about your status or to go ahead and reschedule at his convenience.

Be courteous to everyone you meet. Your interview begins before you set foot on the company property. The person who cut you off in traffic may be the hiring manager rushing to get to the office before your appointment. Keep in mind that receptionists are valuable sources of information for the hiring manger. The hiring manger does not even have to specifically solicit their opinions. After the hiring manager walks you out the front door, the receptionist may make a simple comment about whether you were nice or rude and that could easily impact your chances. With some companies, even what you do while waiting in the reception area may be factored into the hiring decision.

Smile! Breathe! There are two things that many nervous interviewees forget to do: smile and breathe. If you are likely to forget to relax, smile and breathe, you may want to write yourself a note that you see periodically during the interview to remind you.

Meet their need. The company has a need that will be met by hiring the right person. Their need is not to give you a job. You want to determine what that need is and concisely address your points to how you can help meet their needs. You want to address the question, “What’s in it for them?”

Use your previous accomplishments. In the answers to the interview questions, you want to add weight to your answers (anchor them) by using your previous accomplishments. You could easily say “I have done that before and I can do it again” but anyone can say that. It is not enough to state at which company you had that experience. You want to share the situation you faced, the actions you took, and the results you achieved to make your answer real for the interviewer.

Listen! Too many job seekers feel this is their only chance to share their skills and do what can be referred to as a brain dump: sharing everything that is in their head. Using the cliché “we have two ears and one mouth for a reason” we should do twice as much listening as talking. The best conversationalist is one who is a good listener. During the interview, many hiring managers will share valuable information in their side comments that could be missed if the job seeker is not listening intently. By listening you can understand what they are looking for so you can tailor what you say to address those points.

Ask questions! Asking questions shows your interest in the interviewer and, since asking questions is one approach to active listening, it shows your interest in what the interviewer is saying. You don’t have to wait until the end of the interview to ask questions either.

Throughout the interview, as needed, you can ask clarifying questions. You can ask the interviewer how long she has been with the company, what she likes best, what she thinks is the biggest challenge for the company, where she worked before joining the company and what she feels are the traits in a successful candidate. Be sure to ask questions to determine if this is a good fit (company and position) for you. Don’t ask any questions that can easily be answered by searching online. Listen closely so you don’t ask about something the interviewer already addressed. One last question you can ask is what concerns, if any, she has about your ability to perform the job so you can address them.

What to do before you leave. There are several steps you want to take before you leave the interview.

Thank them for their time

Express your sincere interest in the position (if you are interested)

Ask what the next steps are in the interview process and approximate timeframes, the hiring manager or company recruiter may not have exact timeframes but she should have an estimated timeframe for the hiring process.

Get the business card of every interviewer. If some of the interviewers don’t have business cards, get the spelling of their names and their email addresses. Don’t assume the spelling of their name (ex. my name is Judy but I spell it with an “i”). As long as you have the name, you can call back to the person on the switchboard to get the correct spelling.

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