- Closing the Deal -
the job interview
by fergus mellon
Having done the hard work of attracting a company willing to employ you, you will now need to "close" the deal. This means you will have to be convincing enough at your interview for a manager to want to offer you a job and for the company to part with its money and pay you! As such it is the most crucial part of the process of getting a job. There are many books and guides on this topic, but to save you doing too many searches I will set out the basics of the interview process.
Goal of an Interview: this may seem like a really simple one, but let's just go through it so that we all know why companies care about a good interview. The goal is to get the best possible candidate for the open position. An interview, particularly a behavioral one, focuses on asking the candidate for examples of different professional behaviors.
Responding to Questions:
There is of course best practice in answering the questions, but the good news is that it is simple stuff!
Be concise, keep your eye on the time. While it is important to provide examples of your achievements and skills, this does not mean that you should spend twenty minutes on each response. Instead practice your responses to the likely interview questions, ensure that you can talk for between 2 and 5 minutes and give a clear response.
Be truthful! It’s easy to spot when a candidate is stretching the truth. Being untruthful harms candidates as it throws not just the response to the one question into doubt but also the accuracy of the responses to all of the questions. In short, being untruthful will result in you not getting the job. Don’t do it!
A final reason not to be untruthful is that if you have to lie to get the job, i.e. you are forcing a fit where there isn’t one, you will likely end up with a job that you are not suited to. Imagine if you got a job that requires skills you just don’t have. It would be awful, right?
Give examples with your answer. If you are asked about how you establish effective working relationships don't just say "It is because I am a genuine person." Instead use the "It is because I am a genuine person" as the base.
Then go onto say, "For example, when I was on [insert project name] I showed this to my team by [insert activity]. This meant that I was able to gain their trust which ensured we had good relationships. This then mattered when we were completing our end of year project. Some teams had problems around dealing with the stress of getting in multiple assignments on time. We however had a strong team spirit based on genuine relationships which meant that we had a far smoother report submission and got higher grades."
It does not need to be an hour long answer (and don’t do that, you will bore the interviewer). Instead be concise enough to keep the listeners attention and long enough to actually respond properly to the question!
Keep eye contact, don't mumble. This is super basic, but just remember that during times of stress (and interviews are stressful) you may cope with this added stress by looking away from the interviewer and not being clear in your response. Instead ensure that you maintain eye contact (but do not stare!) and speak clearly.
Don't be put off if your interviewer is making notes. I make a lot of notes when I interview a candidate. I do it for two main reasons. The first is so that I have an accurate record of the interview so that I can then compare candidates fairly. The second reason is that it focuses my brain and ensures that I listen intently to the candidates.
Don't let your interviewer taking notes be off-putting! Instead view is as a sign that your interviewer is taking the process seriously.
Be confident, not arrogant. It can be tough to balance being confident while not being arrogant.
You may feel that because you are a great Early Stage Professional that everyone should see it. Do not think like this. Instead have the inner belief to know you are a great candidate, but at the same time know you are not God's gift to the workplace. If at any point you begin to feel that you are better than the people you are meeting with, stop that thought. If you think you are better than the people you are talking to that this is likely to come through in your body language and is not going to endear you to your audience!
Prepare. Finally, anticipate what questions you will be asked and prepare answers to these. How you prepare doesn’t matter (even if you talk through them to yourself!) what matters is that you prepare. You may not come across like Steve Jobs did or as one of the hyper-able presenters on Ted Talks (insert link to an article on Ted Talks), but you will come across as a credible candidate.
For examples of interview questions see the next section: Interview Questions or skip to Interview Questions You Must Ask.
Visiting these pages because you've been to a number of interviews and not yet got a job? Don't worry. Or if you're worrying know that it's common for a job search to take months and not days. Here are some related columns on keeping motivated and dealing with the stress of it all:
Keeping Positive During Your Job Search
Dealing With Rejection and Feedback
Overwhelmed? Try a Mental Refresh