The Interview: Piece of Cake

by Vargas, Rosa Elizabeth Thursday, November 12, 2009
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Hooray! An Interview...Oh no! An Interview

After such a labor-intensive job search, you now have earned the ‘nerve-wracking’ interview. You have also begun to obsess about the plentiful competition. It seems as if everyone you know needs a job. So, how can you relax when you must master the interview? (Don’t worry; I’ll tell you how you can ‘untwist your knickers.’) You must differentiate yourself by adopting an outwardly-tracked mind set. Instead of obsessing with how well you will perform during the job interview, resolve to focus on servicing the interviewer! Ask yourself, “How can I service this person I am about to meet and the company they represent?” I know. I can hear you now, it sounds simpler than it is—and yet, it really is transparent. If you are qualified, have researched the company, and if you know how to gather your thoughts and communicate them verbally—it’s in the bag!

The Best Interviewees

When I use to interview, the candidates that were most memorable (and also turned out to be the best employees) were neither the ones who had answers rolling off their tongue (I could see right through that) nor the ones that walked in on pins and needles. The qualified applicants who were curious, polite, professional, and who seemed to be reflecting on our discussion were the ones I hired. Why? Because in addition to being the best qualified, they cared enough to listen, evaluate, ask questions, and provide insightful and unscripted answers. The image these stellar candidates created during the interview was that of a professional who, yes, had prepared for the interview but used the information as a springboard to an engaging, spot-on conversation.

Calm Down and Redirect Your Focus onto the Interviewer

When you meet your interviewer, focus on them and on what they seek. Transform that entire interview into an order-taking session by making it about the person across from you. Assess your interviewer's body language, listen attentively, and help them solve the problem of finding the ideal candidate. Be the solution to their problem.

Questions That Will Engage Your Interviewer

Another way to engage during an interview is by asking incisive questions. Project your desire to connect, understand, and serve.

What is (name company) looking for in the ideal candidate? How it is that (name company) is in need of fulfilling this position? How does (name company) see this position affecting the entire department? What would employees say they most like about (name company)? Notice the questions suggested above do not address the interviewer by using the pronoun, YOU. By avoiding the use of YOU, the interviewer will not feel interrogated or misinterpret your intentions.

Relax! You have worked hard at attaining an interview; besides, you wouldn’t apply for a job you are not qualified for anyway (right?). Have your piece of cake; you’ve earned it.