We all know despite low unemployment it’s still a nerve racking and challenging experience finding a new job. It’s therefore important to differentiate yourself from the competition especially when you are interviewing for a job you really want!
If you are actively looking for a new job, no doubt you will have followed all the usual advice: prepared a good resume, researched the organisation beforehand, dressed professionally, arrived early, read the job description, but what next?
Recruitment decisions are made on an objective basis with the best qualified person for the job getting the job. Right? Wrong! Having worked in recruitment and as an HR consultant, I know that hiring decisions are made on more than just skills and experience. It’s also about gut feeling and instinctual reactions. All sorts of subtle psychological factors come into play; so here are seven techniques, which can help you, give the interviewer the feeling that you are the one for them and help you land the job.
1. Prepare behavioural responses
Interviewers often ask behavioural interview questions about how you dealt with situations in the past. The theory behind behavioural interviews is that ‘how you behaved in the past, is how you are likely to behave in the future’. To answer impressively you need to think of examples when you have performed well in your last few roles, so you are prepared for their questions. Questions are often about initiative, adding value, managing difficult situations, working in a team or demonstrating leadership. Read the advertisement or job description and prepare for the behaviours they want in the role. This means when they ask you a question, you can easily provide a relevant example.
We know that many top athletes can successfully use visualisation to improve their performance, so you can also use this when you are going for a job interview.
Research has proven that when you visualise yourself feeling confident and relaxed at an upcoming job interview, you tend to perform better and also feel less stressed than those who didn’t. In addition to this, taking a few deep breaths before you walk into the interview will also calm your body and help you feel more confident.
3. The famous handshake
It’s difficult to believe that a firm handshake makes that much of a difference at interview, but it does. The importance of a firm handshake is even greater for women, so avoid wimpy handshakes. Rightly or wrongly it gives a negative impression and can immediately adversely influence the interviewer’s perception of you.
4. Be defensive (if required)
Often interview advice is to avoid being defensive. People say you shouldn’t make excuses for holes in your experience or apologise for your shortcomings. This however isn’t always the best advice.
In fact some research suggests you shouldn’t worry about being defensive if the situation calls for it. When problems emerged in a simulated job interview, applicants who made excuses, expressed remorse and promised it wouldn’t happen again, were rated higher than those who avoided being defensive. Obviously ensure you are pleasantly defensive and in no way aggressive.
5. Be upfront about weaknesses
Similarly, we’ve all got weak spots in our resumes. Research suggests that when someone is upfront about their weaknesses, those listening liked them more than if they concealed it until the end of the interview. Australians generally value honesty.
Exactly the reverse is true for strengths however. Coming out with your biggest achievements upfront is often viewed as boastful; these make a better impression if left to the end of the interview, as though they had to be dragged out of you. There may also be a memory effect at work here. When you leave the interview on a high, that is the impression the interviewers carry of you into their deliberations over who to give the job to.
6. Be unique
There are many answers on the internet to standard interview questions, so when interviewees answer standard questions in novel ways they are at an advantage. I know that from personal experience, hearing the same types of responses to standard questions gets boring and doesn’t highlight differentiation. One note of caution however, don’t make the answer cheesy, ensure it’s still valid and professional. Novel answers are easier to recall and being memorable is a good thing—as long as it’s for the right reasons.
7. Prepare for the worst
One proven way to reduce stress and improve interview performance is to think of all the questions you hope you never get asked at interview and then prepare answers for these questions.
At the end of the day the more you prepare for an interview the better your chance of impressing the interviewer and securing the job. Remember, “its often the best person at interview that gets the job, not the best person for the job!”
Written by June Parker, June works with individuals in Melbourne to coach them to interview success.