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  • Lori A. Jazvac

Strategic Interviewing Tips for Success

The way that interviews are conducted has changed over the years.

These days, you can expect to possibly have more than one phone interview as a screening tool. In-depth skills-based and even personality tests with recruiters, as well as more than one face-to-face interview with different executive team members are common in the hiring process to ensure the selection of a promising candidate.

You may also encounter employers or recruiters who prefer to interview firstly via Skype or online, and then proceed with a panel interview in some cases. The truth of the matter is that the expectations of both employers and recruiters have increased.

Regardless of the interviewing method, there needs to be a fit between you and the job, or a second meeting may not likely happen. As a candidate, you are responsible for demonstrating this alignment while presenting yourself in the best possible light.

You may have been told that effective interviewing is really about exercising common sense -- being poised, professional, actively listening, and answering questions thoughtfully.

Of course, researching the company, the interviewer, and essentially knowing everything that you possibly can about the role, the target, and your value aids preparedness.

Yet, the key to truly successful interviewing goes much deeper.

It involves employing a coherent strategy involving thorough preparation in practice and understanding your offerings and how they align with the employer's organizational goals.

Your goal is to convince the interviewer that you’re competent and that you’re the right person for the job while establishing trust and positive rapport.

If you're approaching an interview soon, ask yourself the following questions honestly?

  • What do you know about the company, its management, staff members, history, and how do your skills and experience align with the role and company culture?

  • What challenges are you prepared to work on to take that company further?

  • Are you prepared to communicate your unique value in the interview? Why should the employer hire you above all other candidates?

  • Can you discuss and elaborate on your accomplishments and their impact?

  • Can you be confident throughout the whole interview –- even when being asked the most challenging questions on the spot?

  • If you were presented with a job offer today with the respective company, how would you respond?

  • Will you be able to meet any challenges that you will be presented with at work?

  • Do you know how to negotiate a job offer?

  • Do you have trusted references in place that you can offer?

When most jobseekers are asked these questions, they sometimes flinch....

Remember that you need to be prepared to share facts with solid and proven results rather than merely outlining your best qualities without evidence to back it up. Do not assume that the résumé as a brand marketing tool will speak for itself in the interview. The things that you do and say during the interview can either help to secure your dream job or send you right back to continuing the job hunt.

Putting forward a strong and well-prepared case as to why the interviewer should employ you while showing why you're genuinely interested in their company will impress the interviewer. The interviewer will be able to spot through your verbal and non-verbal communication gestures whether your presentation is authentic and whether you are passionate and committed to doing the job for the long haul.

You will need to elaborate how you can meet the employer’s strategic goals and how you have achieved tangible results.

The key lies in understanding how to connect with the interviewer, garner trust, and demonstrate a solid fit between you and the company, its culture, and the role itself.

Here are 12 robust tips to help you succeed in the interview process:

~ Practice makes perfect. Ninety per cent of the questions you will be asked in an interview will be ones you can forecast. Practice your responses to common questions with a professional interview coach. Have a strategy to navigate challenging questions and/or potential career-related gaps.

~ Always look your best for an interview. Understand the company’s dress code, but keep it on the formal side. Attire that is too casual can be seen as unprofessional. Ensure that you have a polished appearance. Dress a step up above what you would usually wear to work in that role.

~ Arrive on time. Arrive 10 minutes earlier -- be punctual. Never be late or too early. You want to make a great first impression while showing the employer that you are respectful of their time and are reliable.

~ Be confident. This tip seems simple, but last-minute jitters can sometimes get the best of even the most confident person. You need to be able to make eye contact with the interviewer, confidently shake their hand upon meeting them, and believe that you are the "top candidate" -- that they’re going to be better off hiring you than anyone else. Use the mirroring technique to build a harmonious rapport with the interviewer.

Doing well in a job interview depends on mental preparation.

A person who is composed and relaxed may actually perform better in the interview.

~ Remember: first impressions count. Employers will often judge you first by the way that you dress and behave, and then by the way that you answer their questions.

The interview begins the moment you walk through the company’s doors.

Everyone you come in contact with may have an impact on the hiring process.

This means that minding your communication is essential.

Your non-verbal communication speaks volumes...ensure that it in in sync with your verbal communication!

~ Bring extra copies of your resume, your reference list, a portfolio of work samples (if applicable), and a few questions to ask. Avoid bringing these items to the interview: gum, cell phones, iPods, food/beverages, family, friends, or pets.

~ Take your time to thoughtfully answer questions using clear and concise examples. Listen carefully and answer questions directly in the interview. If you do not understand the question, politely ask for clarification.

~ Demonstrate effective interpersonal skills -- avoid being boastful. A person who demonstrates impressive results while being confident, but humble is often more impressive than someone who brags about their worth.

~ Utilize the effective CAR strategy in interviews. When asked for an example of your work, tell your story concisely -- think about the Challenge, Action, and the Result. This serves as a helpful guide to answering tough questions and providing the employer with concrete examples of your achievements. Or start off with a “big picture” accomplishment, and then tie in a more specific, targeted achievement.

~ Remain positive and upbeat. Remember to never badmouth your former or current employer or co-workers. Talking negatively or mentioning irrelevant or redundant information are sure screen-out factors.

~ Leave the interview on a positive note with a firm handshake and smile.

Even when the interview is over, the job search process still continues. Remain focused!

This is where the jobseeker can have the most impact. When the interview is finished, inquire when the employer can expect to hire someone and how you can follow up. This shows your interest in the job and allows you to finish off the interview with a lasting and favourable impression.

~ Be sure to follow up after the interview with a handwritten (preferred) or email thank you note. A personalized touch can make a big impact on the employer.

If you want to feel confident in the interview, visualize your success by picturing yourself interviewing with ease. You are relaxed and confident, and you build rapport with the interviewer and secure a job offer! This empowering mindset will position you for success.

Invest in a personalized interview coaching session with Creative Horizons Communications and take your interviewing skills to a whole new level!

Other Helpful Interviewing Resources:

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