Interview preparation is perhaps the single most powerful investment you can make to ensure you achieve your number one objective: “to get an offer” by presenting yourself as the best person for the company and the role. Your interview will go better if you follow five simple rules for interviewing.
CPG companies and other consumer-driven organizations are attuned to effective messaging, packaging and persuasion. Those principles apply to your personal brand, too.
So, in order to sell yourself effectively, doing your homework is the prelude to your interview. You should take the time to reflect on and practice answering questions.
Think back to the last time you were being “sold.” When you asked important questions, both what that person said AND how they said it were equally influential to your buying decision. Honesty and style are monumentally important. Trip up on either, and the rest of your interview preparation will be wasted.
Follow these Rules for Interviewing
Here are five simple rules to follow when answering questions in an interview:
1. The first is the simplest: Tell the truth.
You owe it to yourself and the interviewer to present yourself accurately. That is the only way you can be sure of a good fit should the company make an offer and you decide to accept it.
Current salary is where many candidates fudge. Don’t do it. Answer promptly, forthrightly, and accurately. This is a legitimate question that potential employers are entitled to take into consideration. Don’t give in to the temptation to include an anticipated raise. Many companies now verify salary information provided on employment applications, and can easily discover if you misrepresented the information. A lack of honesty about your current compensation will count against you or even count you out!
2. Look them in the eye.
Always make good eye contact with the person you’re speaking to. It strongly increases their confidence in your overall ability. If you are in a group interview, look at and acknowledge others, too. No one wants to be treated as though they are invisible, and their influence in the decision may be greater than it appears during the interview.
3. It’s not always about you, but it’s ok to use the first person.
Balance answers in the singular and plural – “I” and “we” – as much as appropriate. The interviewer wants to know what you did, how you accomplished it, what you learned from it and how you used those learnings in other situations. They also need to know that you play well on a team. So, it is not against the rules of interviewing to both give – and take – credit where it is due.
4. Don’t bad-mouth your current or former employers.
Be positive about what you learned, accomplished, contributed and gained in your past jobs. Don’t diminish the value of the experience you gained by talking the company or individuals down. If a negative situation is well known and brought up by the interviewer, bridge to the positive. No matter where you are coming from, speak to the better-than-expected learning, growth or developmental opportunities you personally have enjoyed.
5. Style is important.
Your style expresses your attitude about the company where you are interviewing. The style you project should be uniquely yours and memorable for the right reasons. You should demonstrate:
- A high energy level and enthusiasm about the company, the industry and the opportunities ahead.
- Willingness to commit to being a success and making the right things happen for the right reasons. Express your interest in personal growth, development and increased responsibility as a win-win scenario that enables the company to succeed as much as you do.
- Confidence based on competence. Short of cockiness, confidence is a hallmark of good business people. In your own way, show passion for what you do and what you have done. Express excitement about their company and the opportunity to join their team.
Being fully prepared to make your first interview your best interview moves you closer to getting the offer. After doing your homework and thinking through answers to most likely questions, ask a friend, experienced recruiter or other trusted adviser to role-play with you. Let them throw you a few curve balls – to see how well you follow these five simple rules for interviewing.
Based on decades of experience placing thousands of candidates, O’Connell Group’s Guideline Series on interviewing includes sample questions, techniques for shaping your answers and simple rules for interviewing to follow. Contact us to learn more or submit this form to request our guide.