How to Interview to Land Your Dream Job
Getting an interview can be a challenge, but it can be even more difficult to get a great offer. A lot of people try to line up environmental factors to put them in the best position to land an interview. Check out this article by Business Insider that discusses some hiring factors that may surprise you.
Will landing an interview at 10:30 am on a sunny Tuesday when no other candidates are interviewing, help you land that next job offer? The simple fact is that while these things may have a slight impact if you don’t focus on your own body language and behaviors you will never land your dream job.
1: Body Language
This is easily the most overlooked and an important aspect of nailing an interview. While you may have a strong resume and great verbal communication skills, if you display the wrong body language you will almost certainly fail. There are three main keys to good body language in an interview:
- Eye Contact
Let’s start with posture. I want you to consider two candidates that have the same level of experience. Both are great verbal communicators. Both are equally qualified. When sitting in your office for their interview, one sits up straight with their shoulders pushed back and their body taking up the maximum amount of space in their chair. The other candidate sits with their hips forward in the chair and slouches with their shoulders rolled forward, looking as small as possible in their chair. The latter will not garner much respect from their interviewer, and for good reason. Posture demonstrates our significance. When you make yourself look large and imposing (not threatening), you silently demand respect from whoever you are talking with.
Some say that the “eyes are the window to the soul.” This is why poor eye contact can be a silent killer in an interview. Holding consistent eye contact displays confidence, and allows the person you’re speaking with to feel more connected to you.
When someone looks you in the eyes, you know that they are confident in speaking to you, and seem more straight-forward and honest. One of the surefire ways to identify someone who is lying is by recognizing their aversion to holding eye contact. If you are telling your potential employer about your skills and passions, but not holding eye contact, they will be much less likely to take you seriously.
How you use your hands is another important factor in body language. Good habits of hand movements include holding your hands with your fingertips touching, forming a triangle or “steeple.” Using your hands to emphasize your talking points can also be effective but should be used sparingly.
Holding your hands in the steeple formation and occasionally moving them outward and displaying your palms can be an effective way to use hand movements to emphasize a point or demonstrate passion.
Make sure to use these actions sparingly, and to avoid sporadic movement of the hands as much as possible. Behaviors like tapping your fingers, constantly adjusting your clothes, or picking at your fingernails are all behaviors that display nervousness.
2: Talking the talk
While body language is a key factor in good interview communication, clear speech is also incredibly important. There are also three main things to keep in mind when building your communication strategy for an interview:
- Word fillers
One of the most significant mistakes you can make that will derail an otherwise strong conversation is the use of word fillers. Filling sentences with meaningless words including “like” and “um” can destroy your credibility in a conversation.
One effective method to avoid using word fillers is to simply slow down. Establish a speed that allows you the time to think about your next word. The main cause of word fillers is simply talking too quickly so that you have to use words such as “like” to buy yourself some time. Let your brain catch up to your mouth!
We will discuss cadence more in the next section, but for now, it is important to know how much of a killer word fillers can be. An otherwise intelligent sentence can sound juvenile when plagued by word fillers.
Cadence is the speed in which you deliver a speech or talking point. Finding the best cadence requires practice and discipline. When you get nervous during a speech, the tendency is to speed up your cadence and accelerate your breathing.
In return, your accelerated breathing and nervousness cause you to speed up even more. Take your time. You have to slow down and re-establish a calm breathing pattern and meticulous speech cadence. An example of strong cadence is former president Barrack Obama. Notice in his speeches how slow and deliberate his words are. He never accelerates his speech or loses his composure, and therefore is a very effective speaker.
The purpose of all of these tips is to avoid distracting from your message. Rather than rushing to get out as many words as possible, take your time to deliberately state your entire thought, not rushing past each word but taking the time to carefully lay out your thought process.
Up until now, this post has discussed how you should say something, but not necessarily what you should be saying. Vocabulary is an important thing to build. It helps you sound more articulate and demonstrates your intelligence. In an interview environment, it may help you stand out against other candidates.
Using fancy words is not exactly why I am discussing vocabulary. Instead, I challenge you to build your vocabulary for each company you are interviewing with. Do research into the job and company you are applying for. Figure out what common terms and metrics are used in this particular setting.
For example, if you are interviewing for a manufacturing job, look up common terms in the manufacturing industry. This helps you sound like more of an experienced professional in that field, and could be the difference maker in whether you get the job.
A candidate for a manufacturing job who understands terms like takt-time, PPM, and six-sigma, will sound far more advanced than someone who does not know the “lingo.” Obviously, some of this will come down to how experienced you are in a field. However, if you are new to a certain industry this is a great way to sound more experienced right off the bat. Don’t simply look up buzz-words though. It is important that you actually understand what they mean and that you use them in a sentence correctly.
While there are many factors that play a part in the interview process, you now have a good starting arsenal of behaviors and strategies that can give you the upper hand. Make sure you have good posture, eye contact, appropriate hand movements, lack word-filler usage, strong cadence, and a refined vocabulary. They can all help you come across more intelligent and experienced.
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