Photo: servantofchaos via flickr
It’s easy to ruin a job interview. If your interviewer’s counting her yawns, it doesn’t matter how qualified you are for the position—you’ve lost the job.So, what mind-numbing mistakes are costing you work? And, more importantly, how can you keep the conversation lively while also coming across as professional?
If you really want to bore your interviewer, go one (or more!) of these routes:
1. Offer a weak introduction
It’s true in dating, and it rings even more true when interviewing for a job: first impressions matter. And they’re made quickly.
Your interviewer might be smitten by your good manners and positive energy, or turned off by your listless handshake and quiet “hello.” Fair or not, you can win or lose the job within the first few minutes.
So introduce yourself with confidence, be personable and show sincere enthusiasm about working for the company. If you can make your mark quickly, it’ll set a good tone for the rest of the interview and you might make a lasting (positive) impression.
2. Fail to treat the interview like a conversation
Interviewers hate it when the discussion feels like a CIA interrogation. Similarly, their interest will fade fast if you simply rattle off answer after answer like a parrot with a cue card.
Get comfortable and engage your interviewer with some genuine conversation. Don’t pry into their personal life, but find a balance between how you’d speak to a friend and how you’d talk to a boss.
Of course, you’ll need to assess your interviewer. Is she the HR Manager or CEO? Is she chatty or straight-laced? Does she go to football games or opera houses? Adjust your conversation accordingly.
3. Speak without energy
“Uhhh…like…I guess my strength is…you know…my ability to…umm..” INDUCE A COMA WITH YOUR WORDS.
Your delivery, inflection and tone of voice should reflect your attitude about the job. This doesn’t mean you need to talk like a valley girl on Valium; just don’t speak in a monotone voice, use a bunch of fillers or sit in your chair like a statue.
Give careful responses, but also use your voice and body language to show that you’re excited about the job and a fun person to work with.
4. Give long-winded answers
You can’t disguise a bad answer by dressing it up with a bunch of irrelevant information. Talking too much is often a sign that you’re nervous or digging deep to find something—anything—to say. And while you’re shoveling words like dirt into your interviewer’s face, she probably mentally checked out minutes ago.
It’s OK to pause before you give an answer. But when you do open your mouth, make sure your response stays on point, relates to the job and highlights why you’re the ideal candidate.
5. Don’t relate your answers back to the job description
Sure, your greatest strength might be your lightning-fast reading skills, but that has nothing to do with the sales job you want. If your answers veer off track during the interview, you’ll lose the interviewer’s attention and, worse yet, the job.
So focus your responses on what the company needs. What is that, exactly? Just look at the job description, which should be your cheat sheet for all the necessary job duties, skills and qualifications. Once you look it over, jot down how your experience and skills match what the company’s looking for.
6. Don’t bother doing your research
When was the company founded? How many people work there? What’s their mission? What do they even do? If you can’t answer these questions beforehand, your interview is sure to be a borefest.
Explore the company’s website, read their “About” section and, if possible, check out the store in person beforehand. Scribble some notes, and bring your notepad to the interview.
With this research in hand, you’ll come across as professional and well-prepared. In addition, you’ll be more ready to ask questions of your own. All of this will lead to a more insightful, smooth and fun conversation.
7. Let yourself blend into the crowd
Maybe you run marathons. Perhaps you’re in a band. Maybe you raise blind miniature kittens. Whatever it is, there’s something that makes you unique. So if you have a chance to bring up your “something” in a natural way, go for it.
Being remembered as “the person who climbed Everest” will be a good conversation piece and make you stand out. Plus, it shows that you’re driven, goal-oriented and interesting. Just make sure you stick out for the right reasons; don’t expose yourself in an unflattering way.
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