You have scored an interview. What’s next?
Keep in mind that an interview means the company already believes you can do the job. Be confident. You have spent years investing in your education, internships, experience, and now is the time to demonstrate you are personally a good fit for the company. An interview is more about convincing the interviewer they want to work with you than it is proving you can do the job.
A positive vision leads to positive outcomes. Famed golfer Jack Nicklaus and champion boxer Mohammad Ali both attributed much of their success to visualization. They would picture a positive outcome in their minds, from beginning to end, before competing. Much like these two, you should visualize a positive interview, from arriving to the office, to engaging the interviewer, to wrapping up the session, to following up afterwards and getting the job.
First Impressions Stick.
The first 20 seconds matter, according to research from UC-Berkeley. The interviewer will determine quickly if you seem trustworthy, kind, compassionate.
Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk focuses on the importance of body language in how we shape the way others see us (Amy Cuddy Body Language).
We at BTU suggest the following 8 components for creating a great impression:
- Eye Contact: Look the interviewer directly in the eye. This is the most important thing you can do to create a sense of trust.
- Posture: Send a signal of high energy by sitting up straight with your back slightly away from the seat back. This also opens the diaphragm, which opens up your breathing, lowering stress and lowering the tone of your voice – which has been shown to command more respect. Stand tall with a straight back and squared shoulders, signaling confidence.
- Handshake: Always offer a firm grip, even if the other person has a weak handshake. Avoid crushing the interviewer’s hand, and do not use the “minister’s handshake” by grasping just the fingers sideways. If you tend to have moist hands when nervous, keep a tissue in your pocket and discreetly dry your hand before the handshake.
- Higher Energy: Be rested and fed and full of energy. High energy signals a willingness to work hard. When making an important point, slow your speech for emphasis. If you normally use your hands while talking, use them. Be natural and enthusiastic.
- Positive Attitude: A YES attitude says you are a team player and can adapt to change. Always find a way to put a positive spin on an answer to a question that could elicit a negative response. When asked, “what is the biggest challenge you have faced?” You might answer “Advanced Statistics, but when I mastered the material after long hours of studying, I knew I could succeed with any other challenge I encountered.”
- Have Something Interesting to Say: People are engaged by story-tellers. Trying to think of a story to tell? Try this: incorporate the phrase “and it made me think…” into any detail on which you want to comment. For instance, take your answer on the challenge question above. Add the phrase to the end: “I knew I could succeed with any other challenge I encountered, and it made me think…” This can lead to a longer conversation with the interviewer, personalizing your meeting more (check out Hannah Harvey’s Art of Storytelling course: http://goo.gl/HLSYn4).
- Smile: As they say, a smile communicates across all languages and cultures. If you do not naturally smile, practice with someone you trust (The Science of Smiling). If you find smiling to be a challenge, don’t despair, as practice makes perfect. A successful smile breeds trust.
- Body Language: It is important to face the interviewer and to send the signal of openness. Don’t cross your arms, as that closes you off to the interviewer. Keep your shoulder and hips at a 90 degree angle to the interviewer’s sight line. Do not turn away from the interviewer, as that appears defensive. Leaning slightly towards the interviewer will suggest interest in the conversation. Male candidates should keep their feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart. Female candidates should have both knees facing the interviewer, even if legs are crossed.
As you visualize your interview, imagine yourself having mastered each of the 8 components above, and remain energetically positive! Do your best to create a positive connection as though you are meeting a potential friend for the first time. Remember that success will come from how you perceive the interview process – think positively and you will have a positive outcome. You can do this!