During a job search, an interview may be your only chance at face time with a potential employer. To strengthen your candidacy, use the time wisely. Instead of reciting information from your resume, make an effort to demonstrate the intangible qualities that make you a great employee.
Companies entrust employees with confidential and sensitive information, so honesty is paramount. The job interview is often the only in-person screening opportunity, so you can assume that the employer is watching you closely. Watch out for stress-induced body language that makes you look dishonest: a shifty gaze, fake smile or small, anxious movements. Most importantly, avoid lying at all costs. A seemingly harmless little white lie, if exposed, can cast a shadow of dishonesty that's difficult to shake.
A job interview tells employers how you communicate in a stressful professional situation. Giving one-word answers, babbling nervously or failing to make eye contact can cause doubt. To come off as a confident and competent employee, take your time. Don't launch into a long, rambling story immediately after a question. Instead, take a moment to pause, breathe and collect your thoughts. This strategy, combined with adequate pre-interview preparation, can help you deliver thoughtful and organized answers. End the meeting on a positive note by shaking hands and offering a genuine "thank you."
In an effort to appear cool and professional during a job interview, you might feel compelled to suppress your natural enthusiasm. A better option is to let your interest in the work shine through. Passion and curiosity let employers know that you're intrinsically motivated, so they don't need to micromanage or push you. Keep it realistic to avoid looking insincere — an employer doesn't expect you to be exuberant about filing or other boring-but-necessary tasks.
In all industries, advanced problem solving is one of the most desirable professional qualities. Employers want to know that you can see a challenge and figure out how to attack it, especially when it's a completely new situation. To demonstrate this ability, come prepared with one or more anecdotes from your work history. Outline your approach, talk about organization and explain how your efforts paid off. This lets the employer know that you can take on new projects without handholding.
During a job interview, the employer is judging you on more than your professional qualities — he's also looking for likability. Since office hours take up one-third or more of each day, it's crucial to find someone who's pleasant to be around. Keep in mind that the intense pressure of an interview can make it difficult to be yourself. To relax, try taking the focus off yourself for a moment by discussing a current news topic or making a noninvasive personal connection, such as, "I noticed the marathon medal on your desk. I'm running the same race this year." No matter how nervous you are, remember to smile, laugh at the interviewer's jokes and make friendly small talk when appropriate.
Showing off your professional qualities requires preparation and concentration, but the effort can move you ahead in the hiring process. By overcoming your nerves, you can make the most of a job interview and leave the employer wanting more.
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