What Should I Talk About in an Interview?
By John Baldino, MSHRD SPHR
For many candidates, the stress of being wanted by an employer is exhausting. We tweak our resumes, scour the internet for every opening that we might remotely qualify for, and network ourselves silly in the hopes of finding an “in” to our dream job. And then it happens… we get that break. Now what?
The interview can present a challenge in and of itself. Anxiety may set in for some of you and with that the overflow of the mouth. You simply have the hardest time stopping yourself from answering each question with five points, taking twenty minutes in length. For others, your brevity can give the impression of disinterest or a lack of communicative ability. What a nightmare to allow yourself to get that door open only to have your interview slam it shut.
Avoiding these situations starts with perspective. Rationally think through why and how you qualify for this role. Develop a plan of presentation around specific points. How will you be sure to bring up what connects you to the role while answering the questions being asked? Consider this:
Interviewer: “Mr. Smith, did you have any trouble finding our offices?”
You: “Why, no, I didn’t. And I think that shows my ability to problem solve. Knowing a couple of days in advance that this interview was happening gave me a chance to take a dry run. That’s what I do. I plan and prepare. And in this job, if I am selected, I know that I will bring that same passion to everything I do.”
Interviewer: (awkward silence)
That may not be the best approach, even though the information has validity. Answer the questions being asked and give examples when appropriate. Share behavioral and/or situational thoughts in response to the interviewer’s questions, but you don’t have to do that for the simpler questions like “How are you doing today?”
Work with a friend to prepare for the interview. Prepare some answers without it being staged so that when a likely question is asked, you can be confident in your response and avoid the “um’s” and “like’s” that plague so many unprepared interviewees. You’ll shine like a star in comparison!
Be okay about a conversation between career and job. Is this a career position? Are you giving the impression that you just want the job or that you can see a career path at the company? Think through short-term and long-term objectives. How does your education align with this path? Are you willing to have your job enlarged or enriched?
If you ask a few questions, which you should, be sure to listen to the responses thoughtfully. Give good eye contact, nodding gestures, and repeat answers to show attention. Might sound basic to you, but can easily be lost due to nerves or lack of plan. Listening is key to a great interview.
And finally, smile. Enjoy this process. As daunting, annoying, or frustrating as it might seem to you, it’s the first impression that this interviewer has of you. Relax and smile. You’re demonstration of ease will confirm your planning. This interview is the way to show your potential employer who you are through a variety of communicative elements – speech, body language, gestures, eye contact, etc. Use them all well in the context of ease and enjoyment. They want to meet with you. Embrace that truth!
John Baldino is the President of Humareso