Whether you are the interviewer or the candidate, there are a few golden rules that can help you take control in an interview scenario and make the right impression on the person sitting opposite.
For the candidate, this is obviously valuable, as you want to put across that you are the best person for the job.
But for the interviewer, it can also be the difference between getting that preferred candidate, and finding they have taken an alternative position with another company.
1. Be humble
A good dose of humility can go a long way in an interview; that doesn’t mean you should be self-deprecating, as of course you want to sound at your best, but try to keep your ego under control.
One of the best ways to do this is to focus on the facts. Interviewers, be ready to demonstrate the strength of your company and the tangible benefits of the role; candidates, stick to genuine experience and expertise, rather than general statements of how good you think you are.
Be your own champion when the time is right, as you need to stand out to an extent, but make sure you stick in the other party’s memory for the right reasons, and don’t come across as arrogant.
2. Be confident
Confidence helps you to make a positive impact without it seeming false – so adopt firm body language, invite the opening handshake, don’t dither when taking your seat, and maintain eye contact throughout the interview.
If there are multiple interviewers – or multiple candidates – be sure to speak to each of them equally, with perhaps a little more attention for the main interviewer if there clearly is one.
Giving people your attention helps to build some rapport, and makes you more memorable; again, it also shows some humility and a lack of arrogance as you acknowledge that everybody’s time is equally important.
3. Be concise
Take your time, think about your answers before you give them, but ultimately try to be clear and concise in what you say, as it’s easy to contradict yourself without realising it.
If you’re asked a yes-no question, use your judgment as to whether a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is enough of an answer, or if the interviewer is looking for a fuller explanation.
Likewise if you are the interviewer, try to keep your questions to a sensible length so the candidate knows exactly what they are being asked; this will improve the chances of getting a sensible answer from them.
4. Be complete
Try to know before you enter the room what you want to get out of the interview – it might not have to end with a “see you on Monday” style job offer.
Interviewer and candidate alike might just want to learn more about each other, about the company and the vacancy, or about the applicant and the details on their CV.
Whereas the interviewer has the opportunity to keep probing until they are satisfied, the candidate’s opportunity comes at the end, so make good use of the ‘any questions?’ final phase of the interview.