Just as a good resume can get you the interview, it is a perfect interview that gets you the job! Regardless of which college graduated you, or what experience or skills you possess, if you cannot sell yourself during the interview, more than likely a company will not consider you for employment. Here is some advice I have given individuals over the years.

1.) Your first goal is to build chemistry. People hire individuals to whom they can relate or who they see as a fit for the organization’s culture and teams. Therefore, as soon as you enter the room, use your small talk skills. Have a genuine conversation regarding the day, the interview, sports or something related to the interviewer’s interests. Pictures on the interviewer’s desk or wall will provide you some clues to their interests. Also, don’t be afraid to smile and show some personality.

2.) Make sure you establish a conversational tone. The good thing about small talk prior to the official interview is that it allows you to warm up and relax. Small talk also creates a conversation rhythm to your voice. If you leave the interview and feel like you did not have a professional conversation and banter, then the interview was probably not a good one.

3) Prepare an executive summary before the interview. The executive summary is a document you put together that lists your qualifications, background and experience as compared to the qualifications, background and experience from the job description. The document is only a reference guide for you (along with the resume) that helps you internalize the requirements and sell yourself to the job description.

4) Prepare for a behavioral-based interview. Most organizations are interested in how you have solved problems in the past. Past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior. Therefore, a recruiter may ask you questions like, “Tell me about a time when you had to motivate a resistant team to make procedural or process changes?” or “Give me an example of a time when you had to make a major presentation to large group. How did you prepare?” One technique to answer behavioral-based questions is by using the Situation, Tasks, Actions, Results (STAR) technique. Give a specific situation in which you were involved, describe your challenge and the actions you took to resolve the problem, and talk about the results. With this technique, you tell a compelling story and make a great sell.

5) Look good and exude confidence. Confidence is always attractive, and it makes a great selling point as well. Do your research on the company, know the position, focus on your strengths and dress to the max for a professional interview. Dark suits, light shirts and dark polished shoes always make you feel like you are on top of the world.

Happy interviewing!

Editor’s Note: Bill Means is director of internships & career programs (Career Center)
at Queens University of Charlotte. This column originally ran on his Queens University Web page, Blogging with Bill.

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