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How do you turn a job interview into a job offer?

It’s not all about your qualifications or experience. You may have gone to Harvard, then Yale, then spent five years volunteering at your local animal shelter, but if you don’t present yourself as a confident candidate, none of that really matters.

Instead of gloating about your achievements, identify yourself as a problem solver, a problem identifier, and a problem preventer. This will help you turn the job interview into the job offer of your dreams.

Let’s take a look at how to optimize your performance during each stage of the interview:

How to Open the Interview

Research says you have a mere seven seconds to make a good first impression on someone. That means you must appear articulate and courageous from the moment you step foot in the interview room. To truly stand out from other candidates, you must state your goal, purpose, and agenda for the interview as soon as you can.

Here are three tips to consider:

  1. Think of your interview as a business meeting. Imagine you’re meeting an important client or investor for the first time. Prepare and perform for the interview accordingly.
  2. Start the interview by telling the employer you want to learn more about this opportunity and better understand the technical and business challenges the role is designed to address.
  3. Once you have learned about the challenges, find out more about the expectations of the hiring team. What do they expect you to achieve in this role? How do they expect you to face the challenges of the role?

How to Keep the Interview Conversation Moving Smoothly

During your interview, don’t wait for the employer to give you an opportunity to ask questions. Show initiative and your own leadership skills by asking questions when an opportunity presents itself. Asking the right question at the wrong time never packs the same punch as asking the right question at the perfect moment.

You may be worried about coming across as rude or interrupting the interviewer. This can be easily avoided if you simply frame your question properly — e.g., “Excuse me for interrupting, but I have a question I would like to ask. Is that okay?”

The key here is to have a natural conversation with the interviewer. In the context of a real back-and-forth dialogue, you can talk about your skills, share stories of your past experiences, and offer authentic help and value to the interviewer. Don’t simply describe what you can do for the company or how you can do it. Instead, you want to dig deeper into why this position is important to you and why it is important to the company. This kind of genuine conversation is far more effective than the stilted question-and-answer form many interviews take.

Need help formulating smart questions to steer the interview in the right direction? Try these:

  1. Who else is on this team and what are their top skills?
  2. What are the common attributes of your top performers?
  3. What is the current status of this project?
  4. What needs to be done first/next?
  5. What is the time frame for completing this project?

How to Close the Interview

At the end of the interview, ask for the job. This might seem strange to you. It may even feel awkward. However, it will show the employer you have confidence — and lots of it. Confidence plays a big role in hiring decisions. In fact, it can even be more of a factor than your skills or qualifications.

Not sure how to come right out and ask for the job? Try closing with something like this: “Based on what we’ve talked about today, can you see me being successful in this role?” The interviewer’s answer will tell you a lot about where you stand, and it can even help you highlight some opportunities for improvement you can leverage to further reinforce your value to the company.

Finally, don’t forget to ask what the next steps will be in the hiring process. This shows you are engaged and truly interested in landing the role — and it also helps you plan your next move.

Job interviews can be nerve-racking, but if you come across as a courageous and confident person who isn’t afraid of asking tough questions and facing difficult challenges, you’ll have a much easier time winning the interviewer over.

Confidence is all about saying the right things at the right time. Follow the interview game plan outlined above, and you’ll be able to turn more job interviews into job offers.

Nader Mowlaee is an engineering career coach and recruiter who is motivated by building confidence in engineers.

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