Avoiding Interview Blues

You’ve spent a restless night. The interview for the job you coveted has come and gone. Though you didn’t expect to have any offers made on the spot, you’re a bit nervous.
Did you wow them? Leave out any essential information that would put you ahead of the other candidates? Say anything that you should have bitten your tongue on? Did you blow it?

You are suffering from post interview blues.

Interviews are full of hints … some that say “This is the one.” Others that say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Here’s a few that will give you insight to how you did … and how you will do in a future interview.

Was the interviewer engaged with you?
When you were there, was there positive body language? What was the interviewer doing? Was there ongoing eye contact? Did the interviewer stay behind a desk, or come out from behind, seating across or close by?

Did she lean in toward you when she asked a question or you responded to one? Did she probe into any areas after you answered? Did she attempt to tie in any issues or topics to the position you are seeking?

How did she listen—was their active head nodding when you replied to a question or made a statement or did you feel that you had a zombie in your presence? Were notes being taking, or was there a blank pad?

A kiss of death would be visual distractions like checking a Palm or BlackBerry, crossed arms, cemented to a chair behind a desk, zero note taking, even laying it down.

Were there encouraging or positive clues?
Phrases like “Tell me more…, “This sounds like our…,” “Go on…,” “I like what you are saying (or I’m hearing)…” all indicate more than casual interest.

Were you interrupted or cut-off?
Your interviewer could be disinterested or bored if he cuts you off mid-sentence or interrupts you. At the first sign of either, switch gears and ask him a question that is directly tied into what you said. It could be, “Did I answer your question fully or would you like another example?” Then be quiet until there is a response.

Did you go on and on?
Let’s face it, job interviews can be nerve racking. A common response is that either the cat gets your tongue and you forgot how to verbalize anything or you end up babbling like a nervous Nellie. Unless you have the most incredible resume couple with outstanding references, either end of the spectrum will shoot you in the foot.

Better to practice key points of what you want to get across at home, in front of the mirror. Learn to respond with short answers. Being concise is a plus. A question like, “Why are you the right person for this position?” should be met with a 60 second or less answer.

Remember, if the interview likes what she hears, you might get a “Tell me more…”

Was there a conversation or monologue?
Ideally, you would like to feel that you are having a chat with a new friend. Did the interviewer keep referring to a laundry list of pre-set questions, or was your interaction free-flowing? The more interactive, the better your position.

Savvy job seekers ask questions.
The last thing you want to be is a bump on the log. It’s common for interviewers to ask you somewhere within the interviewer if you have any questions for them—about the position or the company.

Step up to the plate and show that you’ve done some homework. Not, “What can the company do for you”…but say what you can do for the company. Probe the interviewer with what kind of traits, work habits, training, etc. does the ideal candidate have. If you don’t, it could imply a lack of curiosity.

Your past performances do count.
M. L. Hanson is a Practice Director with The Novo Group, a professional services company located in Denver. With an extensive background in recruiting and interviewing candidates at all levels in an organization, she adds, “When I interview candidates I want them to describe for me how they actually performed in a situation, not what they would theoretically do in a situation.”

“We know a person’s next success is based on their most recent success, therefore candidates need to be prepared to answer questions that are based on their real work experience and behavior.”

Availability and competition are key.
Did the interviewer ask if you have interviewed anywhere else; whether there are any other offers on the table; or how soon could you be available? All are strong indicators that you are on the short list.

Interview length counts.
The impression you make initially counts big. Most interviewers size up their candidates fairly quickly then spend the rest of the interview confirming their opinion. If they like what they see and hear, it almost becomes a “kick back” session; if they don’t, it could be over in less than a half hour.

Did you meet anyone else?
An interview that includes an invite to meet others within the company is a good sign.

Is this a match for you?

Did the interviewer say that your qualities match what they are looking for? Or, was there no mention? A recruiter or interviewer will rarely lay it on the table that you aren’t the right fit, but they will say it if they think you are.

Following up …

Savvy candidates know how to exit after the interview ends. Hanson strongly recommends that you write a follow-up thank you note and briefly mention something the you may have forgotten or want to emphasize.

Acing an interview is a call for celebration. Not doing so hot is one for reflection—it could be the wrong fit; it could be that you weren’t prepared or just wrong timing. There will be another time.

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