A solid interview can help you stand out from other applicants with similar skills and talents. However, your interview time is limited, and it can be challenging to show you have the skills employers want and the emotional intelligence that makes you an ideal fit for the position.
Preparation and specific skills can help you polish your interview presence, calm the jitters, and
demonstrate your ability to form an authentic connection with the interviewer. We’ll explore six interview skills to help you clearly articulate your value to the company and get one step closer to your dream job.
Your interview is a chance to showcase your hard and soft skills and prove you’re the right person for the job. Because the stakes are high, preparing an interview action plan will boost your confidence and smooth your communication skills to ensure you’re presenting the best version of yourself.
Practice the following six essential interview skills to nail your next job interview.
Most people are hesitant to ask an interviewer to clarify a question, according to Sara Sutton, CEO and founder of the job listing website FlexJobs. They may be concerned the interviewer will think they’re being inattentive. However, ensuring you thoroughly understand the question can help you give a thoughtful, relevant response. “Try to paraphrase the question and say, ‘Is this what you’re asking?'” Sutton advised.
You also can use question clarification as an opportunity to turn the tables on interviewers and ask them questions. By treating the interview like a two-way conversation and asking intelligent and thoughtful questions, candidates can gauge whether the company is a good fit for them, according to Dana Leavy-Detrick, a personal brand strategist and career consultant at Brooklyn Resume Studio.
“Candidates should pose questions that will ultimately provide them with deeper insight into the company’s values, culture and even challenges,” Leavy-Detrick said. For example, candidates can ask an interviewer how they mapped their career path with the company. They can also ask interviewers to describe a typical day or highlight qualities that make someone successful in the organization.
A common job interview mistake many interviewees make is to stall when they don’t have a ready answer to a question, or responding with “I don’t know,” according to Shon Burton, CEO of social recruiting tool HiringSolved. Thinking aloud is an excellent tactic for combating this problem.
“The best approach is to have humble confidence,” Burton said. “Repeat the interviewer’s question, and work through your thought process out loud. The interviewer may give you a hint if you’re actively thinking instead of stalling.”
You’re communicating with the interviewer even when you’re not speaking. It’s crucial to be aware of your interview body language and work on ways to keep it under control to appear calmer and more confident.
“Good nonverbal communication speaks volumes about a candidate,” said Jonna Myers, an instructor at the Everett Dobson School of Business and Technology at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. “It’s something most people don’t practice, but it makes it very evident when you’re nervous.”
Myers recommended conducting mock interviews with a friend or in front of a mirror to practice your eye contact, posture and other body language confidence indicators.
“Since there’s no quicker way to kill an interview than to come across disinterested, bored or unengaged, having an opportunity to practice and get feedback will help you overcome the little nuances of your interview persona that you may not be aware of yet,” said Sanjay Sathe, founder and former CEO of the outplacement firm RiseSmart.
One of the best ways to keep your body language under control is to take a deep breath before you step into the interview room and ensure you keep breathing deeply and steadily. This type of breathing helps your body feel more in control and can help keep anxiety at bay.
You’ve likely put immense time and effort into creating a great resume, but do you know it inside and out? While your resume speaks for itself, you’ll add to your credibility when you can easily provide measurable specifics about the accomplishments documented in it.
“Whenever possible, include a statistic to put your accomplishments in perspective,” Sathe recommended. It’s much more compelling to say you delivered customer service to more than 120 customers per week and achieved a 75% resolution rating than simply saying you provided customer service and resolved issues, he said.
“Whatever your contributions were, quantifying them will legitimize your accomplishments,” Sathe added.
Hiring managers can collect bits and pieces of information from social media screenings and your resume, but these details won’t always represent you accurately. The interview is an opportunity to create a more comprehensive narrative of who you are and what you can offer an employer.
“The interview is your opportunity to tie everything together and tell a cohesive and compelling story about yourself and your brand,” Sathe said. “Creating vignettes that tell a story of your accomplishments and your career trajectory that is tied into the needs of the employer is considerably more compelling [than] a disjointed list of past job responsibilities and a description of your skills.”
Every job seeker knows they should thoroughly research the company and position they’re interviewing for. However, using that information to your advantage is just as crucial. Myers recommended researching the company’s community, location, job description and organization.
“It’s very impressive when a candidate can talk about why [they are] a good fit for the position, as well as things that are going on in the company’s community,” Myers said.
Burton added that using LinkedIn to research the hiring manager and anyone else you might be speaking to can give you an understanding of each person’s background and potentially some common ground to spark a discussion.
Additionally, following the company on Facebook and Twitter and setting a Google alert to receive notices whenever the company appears in the news will help you thoroughly research the company and its industry. By immersing yourself in this information, you can shape interview responses and talking points that speak specifically and intelligently to the business you want to join.
There are some critical steps to take before and after the job interview to set yourself up for success.
Before the job interview, you should do the following:
After the job interview, you should do the following:
Preparing for a job interview can be a lot of work, but your planning and preparation will pay dividends during your interview. Focus on specific areas where you need the most improvement to ensure your confidence is high when it’s time for the interview.
It’s like what people used to say about etiquette books: It’s not so much about being proper (though that doesn’t hurt) as it is about feeling more comfortable in any environment, even sitting across the interview table.
Paula Fernandes and Nicole Fallon contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.