Job interviews can be terrifying, but with appropriate preparation you can convince a prospective employer that you are the right person. Success lies in knowing what is likely to happen and what information to bring to bear.
Stick to Business
The phrase "tell me about yourself" during a job interview is not invitation to talking about your children. The proper response is a short description of your current and previous positions, including your responsibilities and reports as well as how you have benefited your employers.
When people are nervous, they tend to abhor silence and keep talking. When you've said what you have to say, stop; you don't want your interviewer to be thinking about yesterday's golf game.
Nose Out Priorities
Companies are looking for new employees to solve their problems, and you have to figure out what those are and how you will help solve them if hired. Career coach Alex Freund suggests asking what the new employee will be doing for the first three months to elicit a list of company priorities.
Don't Toot Your Own Horn
You don't want to sound like a braggart, so when you can, quote what other people have said about you: for example, "my boss gave me a bonus for ..., which he said made a big contribution to the bottom line."
Watch Out for Sneak Attacks
Luckily for job seekers governmental laws and regulations prevent an interviewer from asking about health or marital status. But some will try to sideswipe the issue by groaning about a backache or mumbling about being late because of attending a child's performance, trying to elicit a "me too" response.
Limit Questions About Benefits
A company is not in the business of providing a job out of compassion, because you're out of work. If you focus on vacation and benefits rather than the company and what it needs, they'll know you're just a charity case and will pass you over.
Research, Research, Research
A successful job interview rests on the applicant's preparation. Learn everything you can about the company, its industry, and what the company's needs are likely to be currently and going into the future.
Prepare Relevant Examples
Behavior-based interviewers want you to talk about specific on-the-job behaviors and their results. Prepare examples of your successes in areas like leadership and problem solving.
Project Enthusiasm and Comfort
Companies want to hire people with good vibes and strong social skills. Make sure to manifest your enthusiasm about the company and the position; maintain eye contact with the interviewer at least two-thirds of the time to show confidence, sincerity and interest.
Don't Assign Blame
Employers want to hear that you are a team player. If the interviewer asks about problems you have encountered, take responsibility for any mistakes; instead of blaming your colleagues, show how you appreciate their accomplishments and encouraged their development.