Selling yourself in an interview means creating a positive relationship quickly.
This requires building rapport, a feeling of mutual understanding, and respect. As with any form of public speaking, building rapport is an essential step to interview success, something you can practice and prepare for.
Positive first impressions
You need to make sure that the first impression is a positive one.
Walk purposefully towards the interviewer(s). In a Zoom interview, be ready for when you first see them. Shake hands, if appropriate, with a firm, relaxed grip. And look them in the eye and smile.
When you listen to a question from one of the interviewers, turn slightly to face whomever you are talking to and nod your head. This signals, ‘I am listening to you, I understand, and I agree’. Using natural hand gestures can help reinforce what you are saying.
Using the interviewer’s name is an excellent way to establish rapport. For example, imagine the difference in the answer, ‘Well, there was one time when I worked at….’ and ‘Well, Jake, there was one time when I worked at….’.
Always I NOT we
You are selling yourself, so never give others credit for your work or achievements. Interviewers don’t care what your team achieved, only what YOU achieved.
Use the STAR method for answering competency questions. The questions include:
- Tell us about a time…
- Do you have an example of…
Situation: Briefly set the scene; what was the problem you had to solve or improve
Task: what were the challenges, and what approach did you take
Action: WHAT specific steps did you take to solve the problem and improve the situation
Result: Demonstrate the successful outcome of your actions (and how you measured the success of the outcome).
It is increasingly likely that your interviewers will research you on social media, so you should do the same. Google your interviewers or find them on LinkedIn, as you might discover that you have something in common, which you can then use as a point of reference in establishing rapport. Connections help build trust and rapport, and you can make a note to mention a common interest you share in the interview.
Familiarise yourself with the job description. You need to prove in your answers that you are what they are looking for and you can do what is required.
The power of the pause
In Toastmasters, we are taught the power of the pause. If you are stressed or anxious, take a breather. If you are speaking too quickly, take a pause. If you want to let a point sink in or have more impact, take a pause.
When an interview ends, like any good presentation, you must end with a firm conclusion. You can do this by asking questions that help engage them and show your interest in the role. Then, include three bullet points of why the job should be yours.
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