Interview Skills to Benefit Your Career
There’s no doubt that interviews can be stressful. But the more time you spend preparing for an interview, the more confident you will feel. That confidence will be noted, favorably, by your interviewer.
Much of successful interviewing has to do with being able to align your unique gifts and qualifications with the position you’re applying for. Write down your personal and professional strengths, including the accomplishments you’re most proud of, your values, and your job experience. Reference your resume, cover letter, and the details of any prior projects, if needed.
Self-preparation can put your own strengths at the forefront of your mind and make it easier to articulate them in a conversation.
Thorough research into the company you want to work for—including company reviews, its products and services, and its competitors—can help you determine if the career path will be a good fit.
Scour everything you can find online about the company and jot down your thoughts on what it might be like to work there, as well as any questions you may have about the company culture and the role. Write down specific ways you can contribute to the company and be a part of its mission, beyond what you may have outlined in a resume or cover letter.
Mastering your emotions
Even with thorough preparation, the experience of anticipating a job interview can feel both exciting and stressful. Mastering your emotions, as well as how your nervous system reacts, can offer several benefits:
• Staying calm and relaxed during the interview process
• Feeling assured of your abilities, regardless of the outcome of the interview
• Focusing on making the best decision for your career
To build emotional resilience for your job search, review your self-preparation and company research notes several times. Doing so can give you a quick confidence boost in the days, hours, and minutes leading up to the interview.
To gain control of your nervous system and reduce jitters on the day of the interview, try deep breathing. Get in a comfortable position and slowly inhale, filling your lungs with air. Hold your breath for five counts or longer, and then slowly exhale until you release all the air. Repeat this exercise several times.
Arrive early to the interview to avoid any anxiety about making it on time. During the interview itself, remember to maintain slow, deep breaths and sit tall and upright. This can help you while discussing your qualifications for the position.
For every interview, you’ll want to arrange all the details of the experience, from how to travel to a location or join a Zoom meeting to deciding what to wear. Working on your logistical planning skills can make your interview process run more smoothly, freeing up more energy to focus on your career goals.
To practice this skill, gather logistical details from your interviewer as early as possible and list out the arrangements you’ll need to make, including transportation, parking, internet access, childcare, and more.
Calm Your Nerves
A few nerves can sharpen your mind and push you to perform at your best. However, many people struggle with anxiety before an interview. And, if you don’t take steps to control it, that anxiety could hamper your performance.
There are many techniques that you can use to reduce stress , quiet your mind, and restore feelings of calm and control.
See our articles on physical relaxation techniques and guided imagery for useful ways to combat anxiety.
Make a Good First Impression
Your interview may be your first interaction with the organization or this group of people. So, treat everyone you meet as though they were your interviewer.
For example, imagine that you arrive late to your interview, and you start complaining about the journey to the person who’s sharing the elevator with you. Only when you both get out at the same floor do you realize that they’re the CEO!
Arrive in good time and be courteous, polite and friendly to everyone you meet – making a great first impression will pay off later in the process.
Brushing up on your general communication skills can help you to establish a rapport with your interviewer as well as showcase your qualifications effectively. Verbal communication skills include choosing your words carefully and describing your qualifications clearly. Nonverbal communication skills include smiling, nodding, and making eye contact.
Practice good communication in advance by observing your body language in front of a mirror. In addition, ask a friend or family member to do a mock interview with you, asking you common interview questions that you practice answering based on your prep notes.
During the interview itself, it’s okay to speak slowly and deliberately, and even pause to consider how you’d like to answer the interviewer’s questions.
Research the Organization
If you have an interview with a new organization, start by finding out more about it. Spend time browsing the organization’s website (the “About” section is a good place to start) and reach out to anyone in your network that may have a personal connection or any other information.
This will help you to plan answers that align with the organization’s goals and values. By mentioning key facts during the interview, you’ll show that you’re organized, diligent, and serious about the job.
Get Your Tone Right
An interview is usually a fairly formal situation and the language you use should reflect that. You can still be yourself, but make a particular effort to speak clearly, to use the appropriate terminology, and to avoid slang (and certainly bad language). Aim to match your tone to that of the interviewer.
Keep “reading the room” during the interview, to make sure that your words are having the desired effect.
Pay Attention to Your Body Language
Your body language plays an important part in the way you come across during interviews. Practice maintaining good eye contact, offering a firm handshake, sitting comfortably but confidently in your chair, and smiling.
It’s also important to stay in control of your arms and legs, even if you’re nervous. Try not to play with items in your hands, touch your hair or face, fidget, or jiggle your feet or legs. These are all signals to your interviewer that you’re nervous or uncomfortable.