Acing The Job Interview

job interviewLike it or not, job interviews are something unavoidable when it comes to career development. The Web is full of tips and advice on how to look your best, sound your best and generally make the interviewers hire you on the spot. Most of these tips sound easy to follow but in reality things sometimes turn out to be harder, to the age-old tune ‘easier said than done’. Here are a few basic things you need to focus on if you want to congratulate yourself on an interview gone well.

Confidence is what many of those tips come down to. Not just the impression of confidence, though, but the real thing that is based on you being realistic about your knowledge, skills and experience and also being able to communicate this in the best possible way. Questions about strong and weak points are regular at job interviews, so, if you haven’t already explored them, do so before you meet the interviewer and focus on those strengths that would be relevant to the job you want to get. Speaking of skills and experience, try to strike a balance between underestimating and overestimating yourself. Yes, that’s one more thing that is easier said than done, but ask friends and family for help; biased as they may be because they love you, they would still be able to give you another viewpoint that could be valuable. They could also help you keep your feet on the ground and avoid affecting a whole new personality just because you feel that’s what the prospective employer wants. Pretending to be different from your real self is doable during an interview, but remember that if it goes well, you would be working with these people every day and keeping up a pretense over a longer period of time is hardly worth the effort, not to mention how stressful it is.

Be yourself but within reason. That is to say, don’t pretend to be something you’re not, but, at the same time, don’t feel obliged to reveal as much of yourself as possible, focus on those aspects of yourself that are relevant. Remember, quantity is not quality. Talking about your hobbies is okay if the interviewer has encouraged you to share them, but volunteering too much personal and other information may have the opposite effect, making you seem over-eager or overconfident. Avoiding such missteps is what preliminary research is for. Find out as much as you can about the company you want to work for, about its internal culture, style of communication and even dress code – it shouldn’t be too hard in this age of social networks and all sorts of other information-sharing channels. Research is essential, it will let you know what to expect and will help you prepare for the interview better, including how to dress and how to carry yourself.

Nonverbal communication is in many circumstances much more revealing than the words you actually speak. No doubt you’ve heard about maintaining eye contact, a confident posture (leaning forward while listening, not crossing arms and legs as this indicates insecurity, etc.) and refraining from fidgeting. Again, easy to say, harder to do in a situation fraught with stress. Much of this stress, if you think about it, may be coming from reminding yourself not to fidget, maintain eye contact and sit up straight but not too straight. So, once again, be yourself, just try to tune down the things you know you do when you’re nervous and insecure, like, say, biting the insides of your cheeks. Know what you know and what you can do, rehearse the interview and step into the office of the interviewer with the smile of a confident woman who knows what she wants.