Whether you’re trying to get a full-time, seasonal, or part-time job, blending in with the rest of the pack won’t help you get hired. Here are seven ways to stand out during an interview.
Before the interview, script or outline your responses. It is a matter of preference and comfort. You can choose to script your responses whereby you flesh out your thoughts, or you can create an outline with answers for the questions that may be asked. There is no right or wrong method to prepare your answers.
Improve your speaking voice. Your speaking voice is important for a successful interview, that it not sound harsh or squeaky or even be just too loud or too soft. When preparing for interviews, practice answering interview questions out loud (in a normal speaking voice) and not in a whisper. You may find that your voice changes tone when answering tough questions. Speaking out loud magnifies the parts of speech you need to work on.
Control your anxiety. We have different things that trigger our feelings of anxiety. Recognize your own anxiety triggers, like having to fill in empty pauses, and learn to minimize them. Remind yourself of the preparations you have made to get ready for the interview. Also, expect and embrace silence during the interview. Don’t give in to pressure to fill the open pockets, because when you do you’re likely to trip over your words.
Avoid words that could sabotage your efforts. Certain common words and phrases may seem harmless to you, but they can shoot down the listener’s perception of you. Avoid the following conversational pitfalls that leave an unintentional negative impression. Do not refer to women as girls. Avoid slang. Drop fillers (such as er and like) from your talk.
Make specific statements and keep them short. Steer clear of general statements. Focusing your responses on real life examples provides interviewers with a broad range of your skills and abilities. This works to your benefit because the more knowledge interviewers have of your hands-on experience, the more likely they will base their hiring decision on what matters most – the qualities you bring to the table.
Ask questions throughout the interview. Doing so will ensure that the meeting resembles less of a Spanish Inquisition and more of a conversation. Also, asking questions allows you to find out whether or not you’ll succeed within the department.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Interviewers will overlook many indiscretions. Most expect candidates to be nervous, and they won’t shave off points based on that alone. So give yourself a break if you hiccup along the way.
Adapted from 201 Knockout Answers to Tough Interview Questions: the Ultimate Guide to Handling the New Competency-Based Interview Style, by Linda Matias, AMACOM, 2010