In any interview situation, your goal is of course, to wow your interviewer with your impressive CV, work history and achievements to date. However, it often takes more than the ‘technicalities’ to win over the person, or panel interviewing you. You have to connect on a more personal level. Now this doesn’t mean whipping out a photo of your dog when he was a cute little puppy, but there is somewhat of a middle-ground between the professional and personal that you can give your interviewer a glimpse of. In other words, it’s showing the more ‘human’ side of you. Here are some tips from the team on how to do just that.
Never ever underestimate the power of a smile. Smiling draws people to you, makes you seem approachable, friendly, positive and connects you immediately to your interviewer. There’s little worse than going into an interview stone-faced. Yes, you want your interviewer to know that you are a consummate professional and you are ready to take on the job in the same way but it is not unprofessional to smile. Of course, we don’t recommend smiling throughout the interview, but certainly at the start and end and any appropriate times throughout.
Don’t shy from eye contact
Some people can be a little uncomfortable with eye contact, especially with people they don’t know, but do not avoid it during interview situations. Eye contact is one of the best ways to express sincerity and trustworthiness.
Initiate the handshake
Candidates sometimes ‘um’ and ‘er’ about this one. What is the proper etiquette here? Do you wait for the interviewer to offer their hand first or do you take the initiative? Well, when has taking the initiative ever been a bad idea? Go for the handshake yourself. It’s just another aspect of the all-important greeting that will depict you as a friendly, approachable professional – just don’t concentrate too hard on giving your hand that you forget the interviewer’s name!
Don’t just answer questions – have a conversation
Too many candidates approach interviews as though they were taking an oral exam. Yes, it is essentially a question-answer situation, but you are allowed (and encouraged) to create a dialogue, rather than answering question after question with your well-planned answers. You will have that crucial opportunity to ask your questions when you hear the much-feared ‘do you have any questions for us?’ but that doesn’t mean you can’t also ask some pertinent and appropriate questions along the way. It’s a great way to establish a rapport with your interviewer, as well as make them feel important and give them a more pleasant interview situation along with yourself.
Remember your body language
Easy to do to begin with, but remembering how to hold and carry yourself throughout an interview can become a problem when your mind is consumed with answering questions. A good idea is to get into the habit of mirroring the body language of your interviewer.
Show your personality
You are allowed to be you! In fact, it’s advisable. Your interviewer will not be assessing you on your CV alone – they’ve seen that piece of paper before you have even met them. They want to see what you are like as a person, how you would fit into their company culture and what kind of asset to the team as a whole you would be. If you come into the interview clearly meaning business and only business, you run the risk of appearing unapproachable and as someone who others may struggle to get along with. You also run the risk of being forgotten. You need to leave something memorable about yourself – they’ll always have your CV to remind themselves of your professional background but making them remember you, the person, is harder.
Always, always, always follow up. Aside from simply being good manners, it’s another opportunity to be memorable.