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The interviewing process can be daunting for many young professionals. In this post, I’ll share my tips for what you can do during your actual interview to help you succeed and receive an offer.
1. Nail the first impression
Everyone has had it jammed into their heads that first impressions are important. People usually offer the advice of coming in with a strong handshake, but there are other things you can do as well.
Posture and Body Language
Nail the first thing your interviewers see: your posture and body language. Your first impression could occur when walking from the lobby or entering the interviewing room.
You want to walk in looking confident and professional, and not in an arrogant way. By walking in with confidence and being relaxed, your interviewers will sense it, consciously or unconsciously, and you will start the interview off on the right foot.
Now, the handshake, the part we are most familiar with for first impressions. You should shake the woman’s hand first if the interviewers are comprised of mixed genders. Give a firm shake, while looking at each interviewer in the eye introducing yourself.
Smile and greet your interviewers with a warming personality. Try not to be dull and definitely don’t come off in an overzealous and inauthentic manner. Professionals see right through the fake masks.
Take your seat after your interviewers have taken theirs.
Congrats! You’ve done all the right things to get this interview going. These might not seem like deal-breakers, but this blog is about providing any bit of advice to help skew your odds in the positive favor. Many interviewers pick up on these details.
2. Be a Concise and Entertaining Storyteller
This is more of an art than a science, but by keeping this in mind, you’ll be able to use it to your advantage.
When you are going through an interview, you are basically a storyteller. You are telling them about your background, the projects you have worked on, the behavioral scenarios you have been in, and why you want to join the company.
Many candidates enter interviews communicating in a robotic fashion. They are scared to stray from the textbook answers they learned to use in workshops.
Have a little personality. Be entertaining. It is possible to tell your story, prove your credibility and knowledge, and still be an entertaining storyteller. By doing this, you’ll communicate your thoughts clearer in a more memorable way. You’ll stand out to the interviewers, build rapport, and will leave a positive impact on them.
Trust me, they care more about being able to see themselves working with you than your list of credentials and experience. If you got past the application process and the weeding out of resumes, you must be qualified.
At that point, they want to know if they can be around you for hours on end.
By being an entertainer, you’ll become someone they’ll enjoy being around. People like uplifters in the office. No one cares for people who are bland, and people DEFINITELY don’t like those who carry a negative aura with them.
Check out this post to help you craft a good story: Book Review: 60 Seconds and You’re Hired! by Robin Ryan
3. Bring a portfolio of work or projects you have done
This is a tip that I owe to one of my very good friends in college.
I asked him how one of his internship interviews went and he said, “It was awesome man. I brought that Accounting 3600 project with me and brought it out during the interview. I walked them through it and they were impressed.”
For context, this project was a behemoth 80-hour project for an accounting class. It involved constructing a full annual report for a fictional company through the use of 60 transactions for journal entries.
This turned a light bulb on in my head.
I was never taught to bring some type of physical work with me at that point in college. After hearing my friend’s results, I started taking pieces of work and projects I had worked on into my interviews.
I’d bring projects and find ways to bring them up in an interview. This is how it would usually go:
Interviewer: Can you talk about a project you worked on with a team and what you learned?
Me: Yes, In my accounting class, during my junior year, we had to work in teams of three on a project that was expected to take 80 hours of work. I actually brought it with me. Let me show you.
**takes out project**
Me: Here is what we worked on. It took a lot of planning and learning, but we accomplished x, y, and z.
By doing this you…
- Stand out from the crowd and leave an impression
- Show your competence and quality of work by showcasing a project
- Show you know how to present data and communicate effectively
4. Be conscious of your body language and voice
We touched on this a bit for the first impression, but I want to dive deeper into body language for the entire interview.
Over the course of an interview, your interviewers are learning about you, confirming if you’re competent, and seeing if you could be an asset to the firm. Apart from the words you say, interviewers are collecting information and judging you on numerous verbal and nonverbal cues.
At some point, you may have heard the statistics on the percentage of communication that is nonverbal being upwards of 50%, 70%, or even 93%. Even at the low end of 50%, this is still a considerable amount and body language shouldn’t be neglected.
Here are some tips:
- Have an upright and relaxed posture. You want to show you are alert and attentive, but also comfortable
- Keep eye contact with both interviewers, but be sure to break that eye contact. You don’t want to burn holes through someone with your eyes
- Appropriate use of hands and gestures
- Mirror the body language of your interviewers
Nearly everyone I have spoken to, from Analyst to Managing Director, agree that poor body language affects their opinion on a candidate. This may sound shallow. One should be judged off of their background, resume, and what they are verbally saying, right?
I would agree with you, but understand that prestigious firms have thousands of qualified candidates to choose from. Anything that can be docked will be docked.
Voice is the second part of understanding body language and is equally as important in communicating the right message.
Be conscious of how you conduct your speech and understand what messages you are sending your interviewer.
Speed of Voice
The speed at which you talk should be monitored. Be aware if you are talking too fast. This can send the message that you are nervous and can throw off the interviewer from the things you are actually saying.
On the other hand, speaking too slowly can lull the interviewers to sleep. The best way to go about this is to speak at a pace that allows you to get your message across while keeping your interviewers listening.
Tonality and Volume
The tonality of your voice is the pitch that you are speaking at. If you were to speak at the same tonality, you would be called monotone and would sound robotic. If you listen to any good speaker, they can change up the tonality of their voice to help send a certain message.
By changing the tonality and volume in your interview, you can keep the attention of your interviewers better and get your message across more clearly.
Use tonality and volume to emphasize what you deem important.
5. Think like the interviewer
A significant aspect of the skill of interviewing is knowing how to think like an interviewer.
After reading through countless job descriptions and interviewing consistently for years, I started to feel like I cracked the code of interviewing. Once I got into my professional life and sat on the other side of the interview table, I was able to see when candidates had this as well.
Some candidates would give us the answer we were looking for while others would leave us scratching our heads because they would reply with an answer that raised a flag.
They would say they just wanted the job “as a stepping stone to a better firm.”
Or “I’d prefer to not work long hours.”
This may be surprising to you, but it still happens, and even happens in the final rounds of prestigious interviews.
You have to learn to tell your interviewers what they want to hear. This is NOT the same as lying to make sure you check all their boxes for qualifications. You should learn how to take your experiences and acquired knowledge to craft the answer that they are looking for.
What Can YOU do for THEM?
While expressing your answers, always be saying things that show what you can do for THEM. Deep down, they don’t care what the job or position can do for you. In the end, it is a business, and the business is there to make money and create value for shareholders.
They want to know if you are going to benefit them, their teams, and the firm as a whole. Keep this in mind as you answer.
Some quotes I like to throw into any of my answers are…
- “…and I really think that these traits and experiences will transfer over well into this position to bring value to your team.”
- “…I’d love to have a long career at this firm and would hope to move up over the years, wherever I am needed to bring the most value.”
- “….because I have done ___, ___, and ___, I believe that I am the best candidate and can bring the most value to your team and firm.”
I definitely use a quote like one of these to conclude my response to the “Can you tell me about yourself?” question, but they are also used in nearly every “fit” question type. So while you create your stories to practice the various “fit” questions, see how you can include quotes in them to tell your interviewers how you can be valuable.
- Nail the first impression
- Be a concise and entertaining storyteller
- Bring a portfolio of work or projects you have done
- Be conscious of your body language and voice
- Think like the interviewer
By following these 5 steps, you’ll surely increase your chances of landing that offer!