When it comes to landing a job, interview prep is just as important as your resume. Hiring managers interview hundreds of candidates throughout their careers; they can spot your lack of preparation from a mile away.
Thea Kelley is an experienced career coach and the author of Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview. Recently, she was kind enough to speak with me and offer her advice on interview prep:
1. Be Real
Many job candidates prepare for interviews as if they’re bracing for the impact of a car crash instead of getting ready for a conversation. Hiring managers can sense how guarded you are when you walk into the room, and it doesn’t make you look good.
Kelley says it’s important the interviewer “feels like they’re connecting with [you] as a human being.” In addition to letting your guard down, avoid talking as if you’re some kind of job-seeking machine.
“Phrases such as ‘I possess the ability’ – who talks like that?” Kelley ponders.
2. Keep Your Language Simple
It’s okay to use a little industry jargon to demonstrate your knowledge, but don’t deliver memorized soliloquies or use large words that are unnatural to you. If you can answer a question using smaller, simpler, more direct language, do so.
I like using a recorder with coaching clients so they can hear their tone, vocabulary, and grammar and take corrective action if necessary. Every aspect of your delivery will face scrutiny in an interview, so pay attention to it all when practicing.
3. Display Your Emotional Intelligence
“Emotions can be beneficial for job interviews,” Kelley says.
Telling stories rather than dryly answering questions allows you to showcase your passion, enthusiasm, and even a little appropriate humor. This makes it easier for the interviewer to envision sitting next to you for eight hours a day.
Kelley points out world-class athletes who earn millions of dollars take the time to learn relaxation techniques. You, too, can benefit from practicing relaxation techniques before an interview. Kelley suggests using visualization to “imagine yourself in an interview and being authentic.”
5. Be Memorable; Tell Vivid Stories
Stories connect candidates to interviewers in ways that data can’t. They foster relationships and conversation, rather than inquisition. Storytelling is also a valuable way to work your own questions for the interviewer into the conversation.
Kelley says a list of attributes is not enough to demonstrate your fit or expertise. You must be able to show how your experience is relevant. Offering the interviewer vivid and specific examples makes your qualifications real and convincing.
Don’t just interview to pass a test. Interview to make it real, capture the interviewer’s imagination, and connect with them.
Mark Anthony Dyson is a career consultant, the host and producer of “The Voice of Job Seekers” podcast, and the founder of the blog by the same name.