hen you get the invite to attend an interview, it is only a partial win. Exciting… but don’t take your eye off the prize at that stage. You still have to impress and you no longer have the luxury of hiding behind your pretty CV with the decorated cover letter, complemented by endorsements.
Luxuries are over and the hard part begins. Whether or not you get the job relies on the interviewer liking you.
Scary thought? Will they like me? Everyone worries about the impressions others have of them. What you should be worried about is how persuasive you can be to influence people’s perceptions. These five tips will go a long way to build your powers of persuasion and make it a more comfortable interview experience – for both you and the interviewer.
5 Powerful Ways to Navigate an Interview with the Highest Chance of Success
Have a story to tell
Not just any story though. There will be something in your professional life that is dear to you. A moment you’re proud of. Something you did that your supervisor or team manager was impressed with!
This is something to be equipped with at your interview. Typical advice for interview preparation is to prepare in advance for the most frequently asked questions asked at any interviews. If you’re unaware of these, use a search engine to find frequently asked job interview questions.
As well as knowing the answers to these questions, you should arm yourself with a story and ensure that you get to tell that story in the interview. This is the one thing that is going to help you stand out and be remembered.
Provided you tell the story well.
How do you do that?
Strip it back to the most important details only and stick to the language the interviewer can understand. This is crucial because if you start using corporate lingo or technology terms that someone in HR doesn’t understand, you will lose them. Just tell the story in a way you would tell a friend who doesn’t know how you do what you do.
Before you go to the interview write the story down, then make a note of the core essentials that you need to share and discuss what you did, how you did it, how it helped you, others or the company, and why you are so proud of it.
Vary your vocal tone for engagement
Have you ever listened to someone speak in a flat monotone voice? It comes across as robotic, flat and emotionless, which is really hard and uncomfortable for the listener.
Conversations are more engaging and memorable (in a good way) when vocals are varied. Unfortunately, the most effective way to improve the pitch of your voice is to record yourself speaking and listen to the playback. This may be uncomfortable to do but it is the most effective way because you will spot the areas in your vocals where you need variation.
Practise with your stripped back story by recording yourself. Tell the story with vocal variation and then listen back to it. Keep doing this until you are more comfortable telling it.
One other thing you will find that helps you to vary your tone is to let your body language convey your emotions. For example, when you are raising the pitch level of your voice, lean in, and then lean back when you bring the tone down. Also, use hand gestures effectively to add emphasis.
When your body language is in sync with your vocals, it shows and it is heard in your voice. It also makes it more interesting for the listener.
Be perceived as smarter by talking slower
Listen to a teen speak and you will hear how fast they talk. Listen to yourself speak when you’re nervous and you will sound like a rambling teenager. That’s not good in an interview because it is an indicator that you lack control and experience.
Speak to any senior manager and you will hear they are communicating slowly. It is a completely different pace of speech to that when you are talking with your friends.
Everyone speaks faster than they should in comfortable surroundings. To speak in a meaningful way, you need to slow the pace down. It is difficult but it is a superb advantage when you master it. It means you can plan ahead of what you’re going to say before you utter something you shouldn’t… and eliminate many of the ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ that always interrupt your flow of speech.
Whenever you’re speaking at an interview, remember professionals slow it down. It also makes it more comfortable for the interviewer.
Frame yourself as an employee before you walk in the room
This is a really big shift in thinking because the vast majority of candidates walk into the interview room ready to talk about their experience, accomplishments and the enormous amount of value they will bring to the company. Telling the interviewers what you can do and how you would be better than everyone else out there.
Huge opportunity missed.
The truth is, the person interviewing you has read your CV and cover letter. You have already earned the initial buy-in by getting the interview. By this stage, it is your behaviour that’s going to be a major influence on the hiring decision.
To give you an example, if you’re interviewing for a customer facing role, you will do well by presenting as friendly, outgoing, personable, dressed in casual but smart clothing, etc.
For a senior manager role, however, you would not be so personable, you would use different language, be more succinct and to the point with your replies, be dressed in a suit, use positive body language more, speak slower and be able to control the conversation better by using the right questions at the right time. It is something that only comes with experience.
Think through the traits that someone in the position you are applying for would have and demonstrate those traits from the moment you walk into the interview room. Own the space, own the position and make it easy for the interviewer to picture you as a colleague in that company.
Preparation for interview questions is one thing, but to really get onto the candidate shortlist, demonstrate the behaviours of someone in the position you’re applying for.
Make the effort to create two-way dialogue
You’re only human and so is the person at the other side of the desk.
Rapport is what you need to work at establishing.
Interviews need to have two-way communication happening. Think of it more as an opportunity for you and your interviewer to question each other. Don’t just answer the questions thrown at you and wait for the next one. Introduce your own questions.
Ask about the interviewer. How do they like the job? What’s the company culture like? What’s the most challenging part of working here? How long does it generally take for on-boarding?
Use open-ended questions to get the dialogue going.
When you engage more on meaningful questions that express your interest in not just the job but also the person interviewing you, it’s more relaxing, friendly and memorable.
That being said, you can’t hit it off with everyone, but you can always make the effort. All you can do is try your best.