Interviews are opportunities for potential employers and job candidates to get to know each other. In addition to making a good first impression by looking and dressing appropriately for the interview, you can make a positive impact on a potential employer by being forthcoming but judicious when talking about yourself and your experience. There are some simple general guidelines you can follow regarding what to say in an interview that will increase your chances of getting the job.
Facts and Figures
It is a good idea to have specific examples and facts that help to support your qualifications for the job and complement your resume. Sales figures, dollars saved, awards or special recognition are ways you can differentiate yourself from the crowd and take generic job experience and make it pop. Just be sure that any facts or figures you present are truthful and substantiated during any background check, since it is very easy for employers to crosscheck information. Being caught in a lie by a potential employer, even if it is only a white lie, can remove you from consideration for a position.
If you have left a job under less than ideal circumstances or because you were unhappy, prepare a diplomatic way of discussing the issue before you go for your interview. Even if you were in the right, talking badly a former employer or supervisor will make you look as though you have a poor attitude. A carefully worded statement about what happened that is honest but objective can tell a potential employer everything they need to know. For example, if you worked for a supervisor who was dishonest, you could say that professional ethics are very important to you, and your last supervisor did not share your ethical viewpoint, so you felt that you would be better working elsewhere.
Keep It Focused
During an interview, potential employers want to know how you, your skills and your experience will benefit them. However, they may be interviewing several people for the same position, perhaps even on the same day. Keeping your conversation focused and relevant to the position they are offering helps them to see that you are the right person for the job. Maintaining this focus throughout the interview means that no matter how short it is, you will be sure to communicate your suitability for the job. In addition, the more you keep your focus, the less likely you are to get on tangents that may get you in trouble.
The best candidates show an interest in the company and ask questions about the company and the position. Taking the time to do some background research on the company shows you are not only serious about working in that position, but for that particular company as well. Even if you know the answers, come up with a list of questions prior to the interview and sprinkle them into the conversation when appropriate. You could also wait until the end of the interview. You give the interviewer and opportunity to talk about themselves and the company and take the pressure off yourself for a moment.