You’re about to enter an interview for an internship or an entry-level job. You’ve read up on the company and you’re prepared to field the always-loved question, “What’s your greatest weakness?”
Yet, you still find yourself searching for the right answer during the interview. You know your stuff, but you’ve still been thrown off guard. You thought you knew what to expect! Luckily, we’re here to debrief you on what you might not have prepared for.
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Rule 1: Be aware of body language.
Be engaged…and sit at the edge of your seat to show it. You’re engaged during your interview, but your body language might not say so.
A big pet peeve for many interviewers is when the interviewee does not sit in an engaged fashion. Sure, you want to feel as comfortable as you can, but that does not mean kicking back in your chair.
Sit at the edge of your seat to show that you are engaged and ready for anything.
Rule 2: Take time to consider your thoughts.
Consider what you are about to say before blurting it out. This shows that you care enough about the position to carefully reflect on how to relay your thoughts.
If you answer too quickly, you might forget a key point that would have driven home the interview, or find yourself tongue tied when you realize you are answering a question that was not even asked.
Rule 3: Use the interview on the interview.
Have you ever been told to use the test to take the test? A former teacher of mine used to say this all the time. Basically, if you don’t know how to respond correctly, refer back through the test for hints.
Similarly, you can use an interview to your advantage. If you are asked a question about the company or brand that you’re unsure of how to answer, think back to what the interviewer previously said.
I once interviewed for a position at a magazine that hit an older demographic. I was asked the unexpected question of what the brand meant to me as a 20 year-old.
I’m not a mom, I’m not mid-career, and I can hardly do my own laundry without something bizarre happening. What did the brand mean to me? I thought back to what the interviewer had previously said and through that, was able to craft an answer based on her insight and related it to myself.
Needless to say, I was offered the position. That’s using the test to take the test.
Rule 4: Own the handshake.
It’s important to show that you are confident, and one of the first indicators of confidence is through the handshake. It doesn’t matter what position you are in – from intern to president, everyone should have a firm handshake. Shake hands at the beginning and end of the interview, even if the interviewer doesn’t initially offer up his/her hand.
Rule 5: Do you have any questions for me?
Every interview article (except this one!) says to always ask questions, but what happens when all of your would-be questions have been answered? This happens a lot.
Instead of asking about your duties or your day-to-day schedule, ask questions that relate to your ultimate goals. Example: I’m very interested in one day being XYZ. What are some opportunities in this position that can really expose me to this line of work?
Good luck on your next interview and remember, firm handshake for the first impression, thoughtful questions for the last.