Interviewing Tips and Techniques

Interviewing advice and techniques

Regarding interviewing, there are a million different things you can think about, but I want to start with the very simplest ones. These things might seem very obvious, but I mention them because I see so many people who don't take care of the basics, so I feel I have to mention them.

Know the details of your interview- Do you know the address of the place you are interviewing? The correct floor? The person you are to meet? Where to park? The correct date? I know this seems obvious, but I have no-shows all the time who show up the following day. Do you think you'll get hired if you show up a day late?

Come prepared- Do you have several extra copies of your resume? If there are work samples you emailed or sent, if possible, bring some of those too. Have two or three questions specific for this employer and this job.

Are you ready to interview? To me, a person who comes into an interview or meeting all disheveled, untucked, fumbling through backpacks and with coats, this SCREAMS disorganized, and no one wants to hire a disorganized person. Have everything in order prior to walking in.

Are you really ready to interview? I am writing this because it needs to be said. Turn OFF your cell phone and put it away. Turn off your ipad and put it away. Take a deep breath and let it out. Smile. Dry your sweaty palms. And chill. Worst thing that can happen is you don't get the job. Either way, you got good practice.

Here we go- So they tell you to go right in. If you're being interviewed by one or ten, shake hands with at least the people near you, and smile (not like Miss America, but like you would if you were seeing a friend.) Look people in the eye. No one wants to work with people who seem unfriendly and who don't look them in the eye. Settle in, put away coats, get out your notes and questions, take a breath, and smile again!  They are here to meet you; take a minute to meet everyone.

Answer the questions asked- It is important to listen to the interviewer's questions, and answer them. In the natural course of interviewing, the direction things take often changes, and sometimes it is hard to remember where things started. But feel free to ask, "Does that answer your question?"

Know yourself- I think it is a natural instinct to want to show yourself as the answer to every problem your interviewer has ever had. But don't. Know what you're looking for in the job. Don't promise more than you can deliver, or that you'd want to deliver.

When you're finished answering a question, stop talking- Some people feel compelled to keep talking- about ANYTHING- to fill the quiet, as opposed to simply stop when they are finished. Once you've answered the question that was asked- and take your time doing that- stop talking.  

Make eye contact with everyone- Group interviewing is complicated. There are often one or two people who lead the interview, and maybe 3 or 4 others who ask just a question or two. I remember a friend commenting on an interviewee, and her perception of him during the interview: She felt he didn't respect her, because he barely looked at her. You can ovoid this simply by making eye contact with everyone in the room, whether they are the ones asking questions or not.

Don't talk about what you can't do- This is a bad mistake, one that I have made myself. During an interview, interviewers are often trying to measure your skill set and experience in a particular area. They want to see what you know, and what you don't. Don't pretend to know stuff you don't (believe me- most interviewers can tell!) but don't offer up a list of things you don't know or can't do. For example, one time in an interview, I was asked if I had worked with databases. I answered that, while I had worked with Access and simple databases, I was by no means some expert, and proceeded to talk for a few minutes about all the things about database I didn't know. Apparently I had been doing that all interview long, because at the end of the interview, the interviewer told me, "Andy, you talked me out of hiring you today." Ow. Don't pull an Andy!

Ask your questions- Ask the questions you brought (if you didn't already get answers for them during the interview) and maybe one or two you thought of during the interview. It shows you were listening and participating, and interested in the job and process.

Follow up with thank you notes and interest!