Interview Day: During the interview, relax your mind. Breathe a couple of deep breaths at the start to calm yourself. Empty your head of distractions. Focus on the question, pause to gather your thoughts, remember your practice answers and try to finish in 4-5 sentences. If you find yourself rambling, it’s OK to call it out and just stop talking. It’s also OK to ask “did I answer your question?” to allow for a followup. You want to be brief to allow the interviewer to ask more questions, to show that you can express yourself succinctly and to respect their time.
Smile. I know it’s corny, but it works. Remember, you want the interviewer to imagine working with you, and people like friendly people. Remain positive, engaged, energetic. Use a variety of tones as you speak, to avoid a monotone. Be conversational in your approach. This all signals confidence and a sense that you ‘fit in’.
It’s not uncommon to be asked a question that the interviewer knows you can’t answer. They may be checking to see if you are able to say “I don’t know”, or if you will make up an answer. The best answer is “I don’t know”, followed by “here’s what I think, and here’s what I would do to find out more”.
It’s OK to pause and think before you answer. Be comfortable with silence if you are using the time to give your best answer. This is better than running your mouth and then backtracking. Your interviewer will see that you are thoughtful in how you speak, which is what you want. There are more resources available to answer case study questions, technical questions and thorny behavioral questions. It is time well spent to sit down with a friend and practise answering the questions you think are more difficult.
There’s nothing worse than an interviewer who is clearly in a bad mood, or is being difficult with you. The first thing is Don’t Take It Personally! They may have had a very stressful or difficult day prior to your interview, and unfortunately you are on the receiving end of it! Express empathy and show compassion. You may even ask “Has it been a rough day?” to give them a chance to acknowledge their feelings, but it’s not necessary. Maintain your own energy and positivity and remind yourself that this has nothing to do with you. It is even possible that the interviewer wants to see how you deal with difficult people, so use this opportunity to show that you can handle the situation, maintain your composure and behave professionally despite them being unpleasant.
Often the interviewer will ask “Do you have any questions for me?” Make sure that you do! Have a list of a dozen questions written out that you can go to. It’s best if the questions are specific to their role in the company (showing you have done your homework) but not a must. There are resources available with some generic questions to ask. This is an important opportunity to leave a strong positive impression that you are engaged and interested in contributing to the future success of the company. It’s also an opportunity to determine if this company is the right fit for you.
In the next and final post, we will discuss what to do after your interview to cement your memory in the minds of your interviewers.