I have conducted hundreds of employment interviews for positions ranging from manufacturing shop floor to the executive level. After awhile you begin to notice that successful candidates did certain things that contributed to their positive outcome. Likewise, unsuccessful candidates had certain other actions in common which led to their not being chosen or did not help them.
Hiring managers tell me they can see if someone is right for the organization minutes after the handshake. In a recent Robert Half survey, executives polled said they typically form an opinion of a candidate within the first ten minutes of an employment interview. With such a short amount of time to interact with a hiring manager, what can the candidate do to achieve a positive response?
The most macho of people can be daunted and undone when it comes to facing a job interview. Like public speaking, many have interviewing on their list of their top five most dreaded things to experience. Is it possible to embrace or almost enjoy job interviews? Answer: yes. Following are some behaviors to keep in mind that should help maximize your potential for a successful outcome:
Be cool. A great way to make a good first impression in an interview is to master the interview butterflies. I agree, this can be very hard, but you must try. Feeling stress is a natural response to the interviewing process, and most candidates experience it at some level. The trick is not to show it.
Leverage. Though most aspects of the interview are outside a candidate's control, it is important to leverage the things that are in your power. One example: give yourself a time cushion, and plan to arrive at the interview destination 10-15 minutes early. The consequences of arriving late to an interview are huge. Even if only a few minutes late, you will arrive breathless and already on the defensive. Your goal for the interview is to appear confident and in control, and the need to give excuses for tardiness is inconsistent with that goal. Planning for some extra time in case you get lost or find unexpected traffic travel conditions also allows you to compose yourself and relax a little. Sweaty palms also do not help achieve your goal of a confident persona. Practice at getting yourself to gear down through use of long, slow breathing and other time-tested relaxation techniques.
Anticipate questions. Another thing successful job candidates do is to anticipate questions they are likely to be asked, and give pre-thought to the answers. This bit of preparation will be a confidence booster and stress reliever. Whether any or all of those specific questions are asked, many of the answers often prove useful with respect to other questions. The more pre-work you do for the interview, the more it calms nerves.
No matter what your career experience, doing these behaviors will help you get an edge over the competition for that new job.