Here’s an important point no one ever shares. You do not have to be the most qualified person applying for a job to get hired. You just have to be the person your interviewer likes for the job!
Most managers hire for personality and passion, not your skill set. A lot of skills can be learned by people who bring a positive attitude to work.
You can always become better trained on the job. It comes with experience. But no manager wants to hire a person they don’t find likable. They’re looking for someone who will be pleasant to be around and will work well with their current team as a productive member.
In the past six years, I have tripled my income by moving up and moving on to better opportunities. I’ve used these practices to ace all my job interviews, including the latest one that landed me my present, new general manager’s position.
I am happy to share my tips with you that always get me the job.
1. My best “secret” is: Pretend like your interviewer is your own real friend!
Pretend to yourself that the interviewer is a friend you’re meeting for a casual chat, like getting together over coffee or lunch.
Relax: You aren’t stiff around your friends. Hold your shoulders relaxed. Make your attitude warm and friendly. Be yourself!
Be confident: You wouldn’t be nervous and scared visiting with your own friends. You are awesome, smart, and qualified! Be confident. But not cocky. No one likes that.
When you are out with your own friends, you aren’t trying overly hard to impress them. You’re just being yourself and enjoying their company! Your interview will be more successful if your interviewer likes you than if he feels impressed by you.
You also don’t want to smell of desperation because you need the job. You don’t act like that in your friendships, right? You like your friends, you want to spend time with them. You are not desperate for those friendships. So act like you’d like to have the job, but you’ll also be fine if it doesn’t work out. You can still be glad you met the interviewer, and there are other good things that could come from your new connection with him or her.
Smile: Be warm, friendly and genuine. Smile a real smile. Like you would for a real friend. Not just when you are first introduced, but during the whole interview, at appropriate times in the conversation, not frozen throughout. Let your facial gestures naturally follow the conversation. Pleasant, serious, smiling, thoughtful. Just as if you were having a conversation with your own friend.
Repeat: That was a warm, genuine, friendly smile. NOT flirty! Never flirt in an interview! You are negotiating for your livelihood here. Don’t give anybody the impression you could possibly be anything other than a professional.
Eye contact: Don’t concentrate on the eye contact and stare too intently; that is just uncomfortable for people. Maintain the normal eye contact you would if you were sitting down with your best friend.
2. Positive Attitude
Never say anything negative about present or past employers or coworkers! You could come across as difficult or complaining. Don’t let the interviewer think you are someone who does not take responsibility for himself, but looks for someone else to pin blame for his problems.
If the real reason you left your last job was because you had an evil supervisor, or you were harassed at work, or you were passed over for a promotion you earned, don’t say so. Just say you are looking for a better opportunity to grow or to better provide for your family. Don’t try to explain anything else. It might seem like you’re making excuses.
Don’t fidget. Keep your feet firmly on the floor and your hands loose in your lap. Sit upright in your chair. It helps if you lean slightly forward toward your interviewer, but only slightly so that he feels you are interested and alert, not like you’re trying to show off cleavage. Speaking of that:
4. Appropriate dress
Women, never dress sexy at an interview! No low cut tops, no too-short hem lengths! Keep it conservative, and keep it covered! Makeup should be kept conservative also.
All interviews are not created equal. Some companies are more conservative than others, and some jobs are more conservative than others. If your target job is artistic, creative, or tech-y, your coworkers may go to work in shorts and flip-flops. Even if that is the case, if you want to stand out at your interview, always kick it up a notch and dress better than is expected.
Think ahead. Do some research about the company. Google it. Map out directions to the interview. Learn what you can so that you know about the business and its customers. How can you be an asset to the company? Make sure you have a good understanding of the business.
I checked out the website of my new employer before the interview so I was armed with pertinent information as well as suggestions for improvements that I could help implement. I also did a drive-by so I knew exactly where to go and how long it would take me to get there.
Google interview questions, and practice your answers out loud until you feel comfortable and natural. Be prepared to tell your interviewer how you can help their business succeed.
6. When asked a negative question, always spin it into a positive!
When my interviewer asked, “What do you see as your weakness?” I said, “I’m too much of a perfectionist. I expect too much of myself and always want everything I do to be perfect.” See, a positive spin. They want everything you do to be perfect. That’s how you ace interview questions!
7. What to say and what NOT to say
Don’t talk too much, and especially do not volunteer information about your personal life. Keep the conversation at a professional level.
You want them to see you as a professional, not as a husband or a mom. If you present yourself as such, they’ll imagine you allowing your wife or kids to let your work suffer.
Although my children are more important to me than my own life, I did not mention that I had a family during my interview. I didn’t want to put it on my interviewers’ minds that I could ever need to leave or miss work for their activities or illnesses.
My family is none of their business. My personal life is none of their business.
My professional life is their business.
When they ask you if you have any questions, this is your opportunity to turn the conversation to what you need to know about working there. It is NOT the time to discuss salary, unless your interviewer brings it up. That usually comes after you are offered the job.
You should, however, ask what is expected of the position. Make sure you are clear about the job responsibilities and your ability to perform them. Which brings up this point:
8. No lying about your qualifications
I’ve read lots of advice about “beefing up” your resume and “overstating your qualifications” (lying) to get a job.
Don’t do it!
You will set yourself up for failure, and you’ll probably lose the job anyway. It is not worth it. Dishonesty is never a good idea.
A supervisor who works for me recently interviewed several men for a new maintenance assistant.
One guy told him outright that he did not understand a lot of mechanical and repair work, but he would do any difficult or dirty work he was asked to do. He had good character references and a good work ethic, a likable personality, and an eagerness to work.
We appreciated his honesty. Because he was up front about his qualifications (or lack thereof!), and we liked him more than the other candidates, we hired him. We gave him our landscape guy’s job and promoted our landscape guy to maintenance. Everybody won a victory!
9. Practice for more confidence.
The more practice you have, the more comfortable you will get with the interview process. If you are someone who gets very nervous, you can practice interviewing for jobs you don’t even necessarily want, in order to prepare for the one you do. If you don’t care about the opportunity, you don’t have to feel nervous or feel rejected if you don’t get it. It’s not like you’re obligated to accept if you are offered a job, and it’ll add to your confidence if so! Interview any chance you get. You can take away something new from each experience.
You are amazing; you are smart; and you are perfect for your dream job! Go get it!
If you are in HR or a manager who interviews a lot of people then think about how you can reverse engineer these ideas. For example look at #5. Watch how well prepared they are as they answer each question. Are their answers clear and concise. Do they give details that shows their passion and creativity?
Do you have any great interview tips to share? What is your favorite advice that works?
* Deborah Shelby is a life and happiness enthusiast, voracious reader, full-time working mom of teenagers, and writer. She shares inspiration and ideas for a more positive and joyful life on her blog, Happier Better Life.