Technology and the increased popularity of social media have taken the cutthroat professional world to a new competitive realm. Employers now have the luxury of selecting applicants from various social and professional media websites for interviews like futuristic parents will create designer babies. There’s no denying it’s a competitive market out there. Heck – more children under the age of six have iPads than there are job openings. So scoring an interview is already an accomplishment, but here are some tips to wow your interviewer.
1. Make Your ‘About Me’ Memorable
This seems easy at a first glance, but the key to wowing your interviewer is standing out. Pick a hobby or an interest that would seem unexpected: you are a world-class shooter, you like to salsa dance, or collect Grammy nominated albums. If you’re thinking your hobby isn’t that exciting than dress it up! If you truly enjoy running then talk about the last race you competed in or the local parks you love the most. Everyone will interview decent, but your interviewer will remember you if you’re the guy who is a synchronized swimmer or the gal who paints Picasso imitations.
INTERVIEW DON’T: “I have two children, but they were taken away by CPS because I went through a black out rage and don’t remember anything.”
2. How to phrase it – Your Strengths & Weaknesses
Many interviewees dread this portion of the interview or at least just the part of discussing his or her professional shortcomings, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s all in the delivery of your professional weaknesses and many interviewees forget to include how they are working to improve the noted weakness. If at first glance you struggle with creating innovative ideas but work well with others, discuss how you use your willingness to team up with co-workers to help improve results. The interviewer will forget all about your stated weakness.
INTERVIEW DON’T: “When I get frustrated I handled things in a semi-violent way in the past. That’s my weakness.”
3. Don’t Simply Answer the Question, Tell a Story
This is a big one – being able to tell a story demonstrates your ability to think constructively and concisely. Don’t generalize the situation because it doesn’t sound genuine. The basics of story telling will take you a long way: the who, what, when, and why. Your ability to convey distinct images that clearly define your ability to reflect on your performance is something every interviewer wants to see in applicants. Demonstrating accountability and reflective retrospection leads to professional growth.
INTERVIEW DON’T: “I can’t remember a time I made a mistake at work, but if I ever do in the future I would be very up front and honest with whoever it affected.”
4. Take Your Time
You can’t prepare an answer for every possible question that may be asked in an interview and it’s a guarantee that you’ll be caught off guard by at least one question. But you can control your reaction. Too many interviewees get flustered and rush into an answer – don’t panic. If the question seems unexpected pause for a moment to reflect, don’t just purge every idea or possible answer from your brain in 30 seconds or less. If you still need more time rephrase the question for clarity and ask the interviewer if you understand what they’re asking. Nothing is more awkward than sitting in an interview with an applicant discussing something that has nothing to do with the question.
INTERVIEW DON’T: Blank stare for almost a minute followed up with, “I don’t know.”
5. What About Your Interviewer?
Once the interview finally comes to the end and all of the questions about the job are out of the way, talk about the other person in the room! Every single person interviewed for the job is interested in the position, why else would they be there? But did every single person ask the interviewer what he or she enjoyed most about his or her job? Or how they’ve grown with the company? Probably hardly any of the applicants showed any interest in the interviewer, but making that lasting personal connection may seal the deal for your potential job. It demonstrates your ability to make positive personal relationships in a professional manner. At the end of the day the interviewer wants someone who can do the job, but also be pleasant to be around!
INTERVIEW DON’T: “Have you ever been arrested?”
Now go print off enough resumes to wallpaper your living room and start applying. What are you waiting for?!?