Posted by: garispang | June 21, 2009

Five ways to make the most of your next interview

Job interviews have to rank high on the list of stressful situations for most people. After all, those few minutes talking about your work history and answering questions at a boardroom table have the power to alter your career path significantly. Nervousness and sweaty palms are understandable, but such passive behavior almost never leads to a second interview, much less a job offer.

The way around these natural emotions is to turn the tables on the interviewer. “Remember, they are ones that have a business need that has to be filled,” he says. “You have to be the one to fill it.”

By adjusting your frame of reference and making a few subtle, fairly simple psychological reads of your interviewer, Anderson says, you can quickly gain self-confidence, take control of an interview and steer the hiring manager in your favor.

1. Adopt a successful mindset. “Many people fail interviews because they’re looking to ‘pass’ an interview,” Anderson says. This way of thinking only introduces the possibility of failure, which only increases the chances that you will, indeed, fail. Instead, focus on “solving the employer’s problem,” he says. Becoming an investigator and learning about the needs of the company automatically reduces nervous feelings “because you’re no longer focused on you and instead your attention is on them.”

2. Build instant rapport with your interviewer. All people make first impressions of you within five to seven seconds, and hiring managers are no exception, Anderson says. Once the first impression is cemented, the hiring decisions are usually made within the first 45 seconds. “It’s all downhill after that, no matter what you say,” he says. With less than a minute to work with, you don’t have time to build rapport with dialogue, so the quickest way to make a connection is to appear as much like the interviewer as possible.

“People like people who are like themselves,” Anderson says. “In fact, the largest hiring mistake that costs corporations millions of dollars annually is that managers tend to hire themselves.” Job candidates, however, can capitalize on these “mistakes” and use them to their advantage. Because more than half of human communication is based on body language, pay attention to the interviewer’s gestures, posture, breathing rate, tonality of speech and facial expressions. “If you mirror their physiology and gestures, they will tend to feel safe with you and will assume that you’ll be like them,” he says.

3. Ask lots of questions. “Whoever asks questions is in charge of the conversation,” Anderson says. Unfortunately, most job candidates tend to let the interviewers do most of the talking. By asking strategic questions about their business, he says, “not only can you appear as an expert, you can narrow down the interviewer’s pain and discover their true problems.”

4. Link their need with your offering. Once you understand the interviewer’s pain, focus the rest of the conversation on their problems. Demonstrate to the interviewer how, with your qualifications and previous work history, you have solved similar problems in the past or would be able to solve their current problems. “Pay attention to their language structure,” he cautions. “If the interviewer is more of a ‘big picture’ kind of person, you don’t want to lose him or her with a lot of technical jargon. But if the interviewer is more detail-oriented, it might be a good idea to hop on the whiteboard and start diagramming things for them.”

5. Close the deal. Don’t wait for a second interview call to give the interviewer all the information he or she needs, Anderson says. Discover any objections the interviewer may have and answer them right there. “Once you leave, you no longer have time to clarify any missing points, so you must do this while you’re still in the interview.”

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